MPA Singapore Grants Funding to Digital Startups

Thirteen out of the seventeen technology startups which participated in Singapore’s Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2018 will each receive SGD 50,000 (USD 36,853) in seed funding from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).  

Image Courtesy: MPA Singapore

With this seed funding, these startups can now develop and test-bed their innovative solutions that were close to reaching the market.

In addition to the seed funding, announced by the MPA and NUS Enterprise, an entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), twelve startups were given the opportunity to pitch their solutions to venture capitalists at the inaugural Mixer and Pitch Session held as part of the Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC) 2019.

The session aims to strengthen the development of the maritime innovation ecosystem and open up opportunities in the maritime industry for start-ups and venture capitalists.

“As the maritime industry is characterised by its heavily manual and largely paper-based processes, digitisation is the key to unlocking further innovation such as automation, data analytics, and optimisation,” Vicknesh Pillay, Managing Partner of venture capitalist TNB Aura Fund, explained.

“It is precisely due to the inefficiencies of traditional processes that we see massive opportunities ahead,” Pillay added.

One of the recipients of the seed funding was Claritecs. Marianne Choo, Chief Marketing Officer of Claritecs, said: “Claritecs was one of the youngest start-ups at the 2018 Smart Port Challenge, and we achieved a Top 3 win with ‘BunkerMaestro’, an algorithm-based platform to rejuvenate bunker scheduling operations, with data-driven insights for increased work efficiencies, scheduling clarity and fleet optimisation.”

“We will enter the test-bed phase from next month, with five bunker tanker operators who collectively manage one-third of Singapore’s bunker tanker fleet. We are very grateful to obtain SGD 50,000 in seed funding from MPA,” Choo added.

In 2018, MPA and NUS Enterprise jointly launched PIER71 to spur digital adoption in the maritime industry. One of the key highlights of PIER71 is the Smart Port Challenge, which brings together maritime corporates and technology startups.

“These technology start-ups have expertise in various technology areas, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things and augmented reality. This encourages the adoption of latest technologies and emerging innovations for a more productive and competitive maritime sector in Singapore,” Professor Wong Poh Kam, Senior Director, NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, NUS Enterprise, commented.

MPA and NUS Enterprise is launching the 2019 edition of Smart Port Challenge (SPC) under the PIER71 initiative, which will be enhanced in the areas of startup mentorship, corporate partnership and access to potential investors.

To further support the maritime innovation ecosystem, PIER71 formed several partnerships to provide these thirteen startups with a range of resources that will help them bring their technologies to market.

“Although increased digitalisation and innovative technologies have resulted in unprecedented change in the maritime sector, it has also brought about cost- and time-savings, growth and new capabilities,” Kenneth Lim, Chief Technology Officer, MPA, said.

“Through initiatives under the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map and continued collaboration across the maritime ecosystem, Maritime Singapore will be able to ride the next wave of innovation-driven growth and move up the value chain, to maintain our standing as a global maritime hub,” Lim concluded.