PIER71’s Smart Port Challenge to boost innovation in port operations, shipping and maritime services

Top three start-ups to partner maritime companies on winning projects


The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore, today announced the three winners of the 2018 Smart Port Challenge (SPC). 17 finalists pitched their solutions this afternoon to an audience of 250, at an event graced by Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health.
2. The second edition of SPC brings together maritime companies with technology start-ups and innovators to work on key issues faced by the maritime sector. SPC is one of several industry-wide initiatives under PIER71 (Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ Block71) that seeks to build a vibrant maritime entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in Singapore.
3. “The Smart Port Challenge, along with other initiatives under PIER71, brings together a global network of talent and expertise to create innovative solutions for the industry. This adds to the vibrancy of our maritime innovation ecosystem and supports our vision to be a global maritime hub for connectivity, innovation and talent. I am heartened to witness today the close collaboration between start-ups and maritime companies to develop innovative solutions, with technology as an enabler, for a smarter and more efficient maritime sector,” said Dr Lam.
4. The first, second and third place winners of the 2018 SPC were Ocean Freight Exchange, SkyLab, and Claritecs, and they received cash prizes of S$10,000, S$5,000 and S$3,000 respectively. A total of 122 proposals were received in response to 20 challenge statements identified by maritime companies in the areas of port operations, shipping and maritime services. 17 start-ups with innovative technologies were shortlisted by MPA, NUS Enterprise and maritime companies involved. These start-ups went through PIER71 Accelerate, an eight-week market and business model validation programme where they learnt about the maritime sector, focusing on areas such as customer discovery, competitive analysis and prototype development.
5. “MPA started the Smart Port Challenge in 2017 as part of our wider efforts to promote innovation and catalyse collaborations in the maritime sector. With the formation of PIER71 with NUS Enterprise this year, SPC returned stronger with a 45% increase in proposal submissions as compared with last year. We are pleased to see many innovative prototypes and will continue to provide opportunities for start-ups as we embrace new technologies, such as Virtual Reality, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, that are transforming the maritime sector,” said Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA.
6. “Strengthening Singapore’s maritime innovation ecosystem will help to develop the talent, accelerate new ventures and attract investments into the sector. This will play a crucial role in bringing Singapore’s maritime industry into the digital age and create exciting opportunities for growth,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye.
7. “We have been fostering strategic partnerships to help bridge and provide platforms for start-ups to engage with the flagship industries. The maritime sector plays a crucial role in Singapore’s economy, but is known for being somewhat resistant to innovation and digitalisation. As such, it is heartening to see tech-savvy start-ups working closely with larger, well-established maritime corporates, to catalyse the digital transformation of the industry and create new opportunities for innovation-driven growth,” said Dr Lily Chan, Chief Executive Officer of NUS Enterprise. 
Access to funding, technologies and expertise key to bringing SPC start-ups to market
8. Beyond SPC 2018, MPA and NUS Enterprise will continue to provide a range of resources to support the 17 SPC start-ups in working with maritime companies to progress into the prototype development phase. These resources offer access to funding, international markets, innovative technologies and maritime expertise. 
9. Funding – MPA will provide grants of up to S$50,000 for test-bedding and developing prototypes. SPC start-ups that establish partnerships and receive letters of intent from a maritime company will be eligible for the funding.
10. Global Market Access – PIER71, through MPA and NUS Enterprise, has established partnerships with a number of organisations to help SPC start-ups enter global markets. This includes PortXL (a port and maritime accelerator with presence in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Singapore), Rainmaking (a cooperative of entrepreneurs with co-working space next to Copenhagen’s harbour) and INNOSPACE (a start-up incubator in China). MPA and NUS Enterprise are also working with Startup Wharf (a maritime accelerator based in London) and Katapult Ocean Accelerator (a maritime-related technology accelerator in Norway). 
11. Innovative Technologies – PIER71, through NUS Enterprise, has signed agreements with several companies to provide SPC start-ups free access to their technologies for prototype development. These companies include: 
  • Singtel – to access its satellite network, IoT network and curated data
  • MarineTraffic – to access information on vessel locations
  • Terra Weather – to access information on weather
  • AdNovum – to access security technologies and solutions
  • Panasonic R&D Centre Singapore – to access vision and wireless communication technologies
12. Maritime Expertise – MPA and NUS Enterprise have established strong networks with technology entrepreneurs, maritime veterans and domain experts, who will serve as a pool of mentors to guide SPC start-ups as they bring their innovations to market. 
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About PIER71 
Founded by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), through its entrepreneurial arm, NUS Enterprise, PIER71 (Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined at BLOCK71) aims to grow Singapore’s maritime innovation ecosystem. PIER71 boosts innovation in the maritime and maritime-related industries by attracting talents, creating opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and ideas, attracting investments into start-ups and accelerating ventures.  PIER71 designs and delivers programmes to uncover opportunities within the industry and supports entrepreneurs from ideation to acceleration of their ventures.  PIER71 provides access to various markets, demand drivers, technology solution providers, investors and more. PIER71 also represents a budding and increasingly vibrant ecosystem of stakeholders who are keen to digitalise and create the next wave of maritime innovation. 
About the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) was established on 2 February 1996, with the mission to develop Singapore as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre (IMC), and to advance and safeguard Singapore's strategic maritime interests. MPA is the driving force behind Singapore's port and maritime development, taking on the roles of Port Authority, Port Regulator, Port Planner, IMC Champion, and National Maritime Representative. MPA partners the industry and other agencies to enhance safety, security and environmental protection in our port waters, facilitate port operations and growth, expand the cluster of maritime ancillary services, and promote maritime R&D and manpower development.
About National University of Singapore (NUS)
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education, research and entrepreneurship, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. We have 17 faculties across three campuses in Singapore, as well as 11 NUS Overseas Colleges across the world. Close to 40,000 students from 100 countries enrich our vibrant and diverse campus community. 
Our multidisciplinary and real-world approach to education, research and entrepreneurship enables us to work closely with industry, governments and academia to address crucial and complex issues relevant to Asia and the world. Researchers in our faculties, 29 university-level research institutes, research centres of excellence and corporate labs focus on themes that include energy, environmental and urban sustainability; treatment and prevention of diseases common among Asians; active ageing; advanced materials; as well as risk management and resilience of financial systems. Our latest research focus is on the use of data science, operations research and cybersecurity to support Singapore's Smart Nation initiative.
For more information on NUS, please visit 
About NUS Enterprise
NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond. It actively promotes entrepreneurship and cultivates global mind-sets and talents through the synergies of experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships, holistic entrepreneurship support and catalytic entrepreneurship outreach. Its initiatives and global connections support a range of entrepreneurial journeys and foster ecosystem building in new markets. These initiatives augment and complement the University’s academic programmes and act as a unique bridge to industry well beyond Singapore’s shores.
For more information, please visit 
For media queries, please contact:
Celestyn Leow (Ms)
Corporate Communications, MPA
DID: (65) 6375 1644, Email: 
Carol Lo (Ms)
Marketing & Communications, NUS Enterprise
DID: (65) 6516 1003, Email: