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MPA extends partnership with NUS to enhance PIER71TM programmes

26 Nov 2021

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Wednesday (24 November) said it has renewed its partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) to strengthen the maritime technology (MarineTech) ecosystem through enhanced and new innovation initiatives and start-up programmes for another three years.

Under the partnership, MPA and NUS will expand the scope of the PIER71TM (Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71) initiative to better support Singapore’s growing maritime technology or MarineTech start-up ecosystem. 

The announcement was made by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport, at the Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2021 Grand Final.

The new programme components introduced to the PIER71TM initiative are aimed at strengthening the growth of MarineTech start-ups, attracting more investments, supporting internationalisation, and increasing tech solution deployment to the maritime industry. These includes:

  • PIER71 Ascend – A 12-month, by-invite only scale-up programme, with curated masterclasses, industry networking sessions, and an immersion programme aimed at connecting start-ups to overseas markets and government stakeholders, as well as prospective maritime customers. Promising scale-ups can also apply for grant support of up to S$100,000 to scale their solutions, under MPA’s MINT-STARTUP scheme. 
  • Investor Connection – Structured pitching and venture capital (VC) networking events will be organised for start-ups to gain access to investors and capital. This aims to increase the amount of investment into PIER71TM and partner programmes’ alumni. 

The three winners of SPC 2021 were also announced by Mr Chee at the event. The first, second and third place winners were: WeavAir, EcoWorth and Spinoff Robotics. 

Together with the other finalists, the winners were evaluated by a panel of judges on its proposed solution, business model, market opportunity, impact to the maritime industry and overall team capability. 

The winning teams walked away with cash prizes of S$10,000, S$5,000 and S$3,000 respectively. 

The fifth edition of the SPC received over 150 applications from start-ups around the world and 18 were shortlisted as finalists. For the first time, two of the shortlisted start-ups participated as a team, combining its complementary technologies into a joint proposition to automate on-ground cargo management.

Solutions addressing safety and well-being of maritime personnel featured strongly this year, in line with the increased attention paid by the industry on this focus area. 

The other innovative solutions include application of artificial intelligence, data analytics and robotics to optimise the global supply chain, automate processes and create more sustainable shipping operations. 

All 18 finalists have completed PIER71TM Accelerate, a seven-week market validation and customer discovery programme and are now eligible to apply for a grant of up to S$50,000 from MPA to embark on pilot projects with maritime companies.

Mr Chee said: “As Maritime Singapore emerges from the pandemic, we are going for growth.  Our ambition to be a leading MarineTech hub is a key driver of this growth. Through MPA and NUS’s renewed partnership and new initiatives, we will support MarineTech companies with access to markets, technology, funding, and talent, to enable good ideas to become scalable solutions.” 

Professor Freddy Boey, Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), said: “The impact that PIER71TM has made in growing the maritime innovation ecosystem to where it is today, is a testament to the synergies between MPA and NUS.”

“The renewal of our partnership will bring on new initiatives that align with the strategic direction of attracting talent, technologies and investments that will strengthen the maritime sector’s ability to create new ventures as well as a more efficient and sustainable global supply chain.”

Natalia Mykhaylova, Founder & CEO of WeavAir commented: “Our team is extremely impressed with the PIER7TM programme, mentorship quality, professionalism and guidance that helped us expand and find validation very quickly. A top-notch programme recommended for all start-ups who are in or considering expanding in the maritime industry.”

Six previous SPC finalists also secured funding ranging from Seed to Series A, with the highest being US$7m raised by a 2018 finalist, dltledgers, a blockchain start-up part of successful electronic bill of lading (eBL) trial between Singapore and the Netherlands.

Note: A recording of the SPC 2021 Grand Final, as well as information on the finalists, is available at https://spc2021.pier71.sg.


Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 26 November, 2021

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