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SMW 2021: MPA unveils programs to step up Maritime Innovation in Singapore

21 Apr 2021

A new Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund grant scheme was announced by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Tuesday (20 April) at the 5th Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC). The grant will provide maritime technology start-ups in Singapore a leg-up to develop scalable solutions.

In addition, the MPA will push for wider industry adoption of digitalisation initiatives such as electronic bills of lading (eBL) and electronic bunker delivery notes (eBDN) to drive productivity for the sector.

These developments were announced on Tuesday itself by Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport, at the SMTC. The SMTC is one of the key events organised in the Singapore Maritime Week 2021.

It was also announced that the MPA has allocated SGD 10 million (USD 7.5 million) from the MINT Fund to support the growth and development of maritime technology start-ups in Singapore. Under this expanded effort, MPA will also develop a digital technology marketplace and a start-up playbook.

The marketplace will connect maritime and venture capital companies with start-ups and facilitate discovery of solutions. The start-up playbook serves as a comprehensive guide for start-ups to springboard into Singapore tapping on schemes and support programmes relating to talent, capital and R&D resources.

As part of this endeavor, MPA will introduce a new grant scheme called MINT-STARTUP. Start-ups that have completed the PIER71 or relevant maritime acceleration programmes in Singapore can apply for a grant of up to SGD 50,000 to pilot their projects. Promising start-ups looking to scale up their offerings or projects can also apply for a project grant of up to SGD100,000.

PIER71 is a joint maritime innovation ecosystem between the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the National University of Singapore through its entrepreneurial arm, NUS Enterprise.

Additionally, MPA also announced the successful completion of an eBL trial which demonstrated the interoperability between different digital trade platforms.

In January 2021, Singapore and the Netherlands completed a shipment where an eBL “shadowed” a live shipment from Qui Nhon, Vietnam to Rotterdam, the Netherlands via transhipment in Singapore.

The trial showed that there were significant time savings in the BL documentation process from an average of six to ten days when using a hardcopy to less than 24 hours when using an eBL.

This successful trial also marks one of the first title transfers, across different digital platforms, which was facilitated by TradeTrust, an open-standard digital utility to enable interoperability.

To catalyse adoption of eBLs, MPA is issuing a call-for-proposal (CFP) to develop and pilot eBL solutions that are based on open standards and meeting the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) framework.

Bringing together industry partners and solution providers, MPA noted the projects must be able to demonstrate benefits such as manpower savings and lowered fraud risk in commercial use cases. The Infocomm Media Development Authority and the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) will be supporting this call.

MPA has also announced additions to the digitalOCEANS™ initiative focused on shaping and harmonising global data standards for maritime digitalisation. Senior Minister Chee welcomed the participation of DCSA, which will be joining MPA and other existing international partners in this key project.

As an industry body representing nine of the top container liners in the world and accounting for about 70% of the global container trade, DCSA will contribute cargo and vessel operational data standards, offering a boost towards interoperability of digital maritime platforms.

All partners will work on data harmonisation and target to jointly publish a set of API specifications for sharing across the international maritime community by end 2021.

This year’s SMTC also saw the signing of the 4th Memorandum of Understanding between MPA and PSA International on the Port Technology R&D programme. The programme aims to accelerate technology research, development and facilitate live trials in the areas of automated container port systems, advanced port optimisation techniques and green port technologies for application in existing container terminals and the new Tuas Port.

The programme will also uplift capabilities of the local port ecosystem including small and medium enterprises and research institutes. The MOU was signed at the SMTC by MPA Chief Executive, Quah Ley Hoon and PSA International Regional Chief Executive Officer (South East Asia), Ong Kim Pong, and witnessed by Senior Minister Chee and Niam Chiang Meng, Chairman, MPA and Tan Chong Meng, Group Chief Executive Officer, PSA International.

MPA also announced the extension of its Memorandum of Understanding with the Research Council of Norway (RCN) for an 8th term. Under the terms of the MOU, RCN and MPA will jointly support research in Maritime Digitalisation and Sustainable Shipping and organise the International Maritime-Port Technology and Development Conference.

This MOU will encourage maritime research institutes in Singapore and Norway to grow partnerships with maritime technology companies in both countries and to develop new capabilities.

This year’s SMTC takes place from Tuesday, 20 April to Thursday, 22 April and will be a hybrid conference featuring physical events at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre as well as virtual events taking place online.

The key focus of the conference is on critical issues facing the maritime industry, including industry transformation, digitalisation and decarbonisation, cyber resilience and the impact on ships and ports, as well as the growth of the start-ups in the sector and access to financing by industry players.

Close to 1,000 C-suite and senior executives from the maritime industry, R&D and tech community, start-up ecosystem and venture capitalists are expected to participate in the three-day conference both in-person and online.

More information on the CFP to develop eBL solutions is available here.  

As part of SMTC’s opening, a panel discussed Singapore’s vision for digital transformation, moderated by Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive, MPA.
HE Anita Nergaard, Ambassador of Norway to Singapore and Mr Per Christer Lund, Science and Technology Counsellor, Innovation Norway, representing RCN.
MOU was signed by MPA Chief Executive, Ms Quah Ley Hoon and PSA International Regional Chief Executive Officer (South East Asia), Mr Ong Kim Pong, and witnessed by Mr Chee and Mr Niam Chiang Meng, Chairman, MPA and Mr Tan Chong Meng, Group Chief Executive Officer, PSA International.

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 21 April, 2021


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