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NTU Ecolabs in initiative to develop alternative bunker fuels, sustainable shipping tech

12 Aug 2020

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) in late July launched a new multi-million maritime technology scale-up initiative led by NTU EcoLabs Centre of Innovation for Energy (EcoLabs) to help the maritime industry reduce carbon emissions, and tech firms can receive a boost during this COVID-19 recession.

Technologies such as low carbon alternative fuels, maritime port equipment electrification, renewable energy integration, fuel cells and hybrid-electric propulsion systems are among the various types of decarbonisation technologies that this initiative aims to help scale up, test and commercialise in the maritime sector, it said.

EcoLabs is a national-level centre launched in April 2019 by NTU Singapore, Enterprise Singapore, and the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS) to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups innovate, grow and thrive in the competitive energy sector. 

NTU EcoLabs said it will support the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)’s Maritime GreenFuture Fund through this initiative together with its technology partner SDGX and three of its co-investors: Blue Ashva Capital, Origgin Ventures and Chrysalix Venture Capital. 

“Disruptive change and innovation can happen as a result of synergy between ecosystems,” said Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, Chairman of EcoLabs Governing Board and Associate Vice President (Strategy and Partnerships) at NTU Singapore.

“NTU Ecolabs, its co-investors and its global technology partners will contribute expertise for the translation and deployment of deep tech solutions in commercial testbeds, where we will help start-ups prove that their technology is ready for market adoption. 

“This will help decarbonisation and sustainability start-ups bridge their transition from lab to market, which is currently a gap in the maritime sector where many start-ups fail to cross.”

“More decarbonisation innovations can come from tech start-ups and SMEs in the form of decarbonisation solutions for sea transport,” added Kenneth Lim, MPA’s Chief Technology Officer and Senior Director, Innovation, Technology & Talent Development.

“We are thus heartened by this partnership with Ecolabs which will identify and scale promising maritime tech companies to play this important role. In this regard, we look forward to more partners joining our Maritime GreenFuture Fund.”

Announced earlier this year, the Maritime GreenFuture Fund was initiated by MPA to accelerate efforts in research, test-bedding, and promote the adoption of low-carbon technologies to position Singapore for long-term maritime sustainability, explained NTU Ecolabs. 

Under this scale-up initiative, EcoLabs and its co-investors will jointly support each firm with support worth SGD 100,000 (USD 72,741) and more, comprising in-kind contribution, investments and co-funding of projects.

This will help promising cleantech companies to pilot-test and launch their innovation amidst a weaker business climate and ready themselves when the economy picks up, noted Ecolabs.

While this new initiative led by EcoLabs will benefit start-ups and SMEs from many platforms, start-ups identified from the Smart Port Challenge by the Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71 (PIER71), can gain access to eligibility for MPA grant applications of up to SGD 50,000 as well. 

 Other emerging areas that the Ecolabs will support include novel onboard carbon capture technologies, emissions monitoring, transparency, and management, new scrubbers to clean up exhaust emissions – all geared towards lesser energy usage and lesser carbon emissions.

“Decarbonising industrial activities is well-aligned with Chrysalix’s legacy of industrial innovation. Electrification, carbon capture and usage, green hydrogen and bringing carbon in a circular loop are all important drivers for a carbon-neutral future,” said Fred Van Beuningen, Managing Partner of Chrysalix Venture Capital.

“Therefore, we are excited to partner with the Maritime Green initiative and about our broader engagement with NTU in general.”

: Singapore: MPA reveals collaborative proposals to digitalise and decarbonise shipping

Photo credit: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Published: 12 August, 2020

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