Maritime Innovation in Singapore Receives Boost

20 April 2021

Greater Support for Maritime Technology Start-Ups and Digitalisation Push for Maritime Trade and Bunkering Services

       A new Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund grant scheme will provide maritime technology start-ups in Singapore a leg-up to develop scalable solutions. In addition, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will push for wider industry adoption of digitalisation initiatives such as electronic bills of lading (eBL) and electronic bunker delivery note (eBDN) to drive productivity for the sector. These were announced today by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport, at the 5th Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC). The SMTC is one of the key events organised in the Singapore Maritime Week 2021. 

DEVELOPING A VIBRANT AND CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR START-UPS 

2        To support Singapore’s ambition to be the top maritime start-up hub in the world, MPA has set aside $10 million from the Maritime Innovation and Technology (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.

3        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 S$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 S$100,000. 

DIGITALISING BUSINESS-TO-GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS BUNKERING REPORTING PROCESSES 

4        To raise productivity and instil greater confidence in Singapore’s bunkering industry, MPA also launched a digitalisation plan for the bunkering sector that covers:

  • Development of digitalBunker@SG by MPA, a secure system for bunker companies to automate data submission for regulatory reporting purposes. When implemented, the system is expected to save more than 1,400 man-days annually for the sector.
  • MPA will launch a call-for-proposal (CFP) to partner the industry in projects to digitalise the bunker purchase and delivery process as well as documentations such as bunker delivery note. An end-to-end and highly digitalised workflow across multiple stakeholders including customers and financial institutions will improve efficiency and transparency of the bunkering supply chain.

More information on the CFP to develop solutions to digitalise bunker purchase and delivery process and documentations can be found at https://www.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home/maritime-companies/research-development/mint-fund-call-for-proposals/digital-bunkering

PUSH FOR WIDER INDUSTRY ADOPTION OF EBLs GAINING MOMENTUM 

5        MPA 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. 

6       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 transfer, across different digital platforms, which was facilitated by TradeTrust, an open-standard digital utility to enable interoperability.

Please refer to Annex A for more details on this trial.

7        To catalyse adoption of eBLs, MPA is issuing a 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, 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. 

More information on the CFP to develop eBL solutions can be found at https://www.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home/maritime-companies/research-development/mint-fund-call-for-proposals/electronic-bills-of-lading

INTEROPERABILITY AND OPEN STANDARDS KEY TO ADOPTION OF DIGITAL SOLUTIONS ACROSS GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS

8        MPA has also announced additions to the digitalOCEANS™ initiative focused on shaping and harmonising global data standards for maritime digitalisation. Mr 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 specification for sharing across the international maritime community by end 2021.

More information on the digitalOCEANSTM initiative can be found at Annex B. 

PARTNERING FOR FUTURE SUCCESS

9        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, 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.

10        MPA also announced that it will be extending 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.

SMTC – A FOCUS ON INDUSTRY TRANSFORMATION, DIGITALISATION AND DECARBONISATION

11       This year’s SMTC takes place from 20 April to 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.

12      In the lead-up to the main SMTC conference, an SMTC TechTalk Theatre online event was held on April 19. This exciting and innovative format featured experts in live sessions online as they discussed prevailing issues of maritime technology development through real-world use cases. They also addressed maritime cyber security for non-technical professionals, the market outlook for Smart Ship Tech Trends, remotely operated vessels and the opportunities they present, as well as the use of 3D printing and digital spare parts in the industry.

Click here for Annexes

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