Wilhelmsen, HHLA invest in maritime-focused startups

Motion Ventures, a consortium-driven investment fund powered by Rainmaking, was launched on 25 February 2021, attracting investments from Norway’s maritime industry group Wilhelmsen and Germany’s port and terminal operator Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA).


The fund has a S$30 million (about $22.7 million) target and has completed its first close – with Wilhelmsen and HHLA as anchor investors – to accelerate startups solving maritime value chain hurdles with strategic capital and support.

“Motion Ventures is an innovation opportunity that tackles maritime value chain hurdles through a fresh industry consortium. For the first time, first-mover corporations like Wilhelmsen will bring together centuries of industry legacy, capital, resources and insight to ensure startups have the best possible chance to commercialise and find a strategic market fit,” Shaun Hon, General Partner at Motion Ventures and Director at Rainmaking, commented.

“It’s an approach that will shake up the startup and corporate relationship and we’re excited to work with bold founders who are ready to make a meaningful impact in maritime value chains.”

Specifically, Motion Ventures will target early-stage startups tackling challenges in the maritime value chain from first principle with scalable technologies such as artificial intelligence, continuous intelligence, and hyperautomation.

The fund’s structure offers startups access to key maritime firms through the consortium of corporate investors and opens potential traction pathways across the value chain. Simultaneously for the anchors, the structure offers a de-risking process by offering insight and participation in the investment evaluations. This represents a first-of-its-kind fund structure in the maritime industry, to ensure quality corporate participation and a startup scale path model.  

Motion Ventures will tap into Rainmaking’s global networks to source for suitable technology startups. The fund will also offer portfolio companies advantages to scale via its Venture Studio and Open Innovation Platform that facilitates commercial partnerships between startups and Fortune 500 companies.

Complementing the fund’s go-to-market initiatives will be the previously announced Ocean Ventures Alliance, a maritime innovation advisory network. Since launching in November 2020 the alliance has brought together more than 40 maritime value chain industry leaders so future portfolio companies can tap on specific domain experts for guidance and mentorship.

Motion Ventures will jointly invest into startups with SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore. This follows SEEDS Capital’s S$50M commitment in June 2020 to co-invest into maritime technology startups with newly appointed partners, such as Rainmaking.

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“I am energised to see the innovation and transformation transitions taking place in the maritime industry. With the unique combination of capital, competence and corporate capability, I have no doubt that Motion Ventures will also resonate with other forward-leaning industry stakeholders and ambitious startups wanting to make a meaningful impact,” Nakul Malhotra, VP Open Innovation, Wilhelmsen, said.

“The participation into Motion Ventures as an anchor investor allows HHLA to collaborate across the industry to accelerate innovation in the space as a consortium. We’re excited to work synergistically with other anchors to adopt, shape and scale the future of innovation,” Christian Langer, Chief Digital Officer, HHLA, noted.

“We are encouraged by the progress of the Motion Ventures fund and look forward to a strong partnership in growing the maritime tech ecosystem in Singapore,” Geoffrey Yeo, General Manager of SEEDS Capital, said.