[Press Release] Winners of Smart Port Challenge 2020 Bring Tech Innovation to Maritime

At the grand final held today, three promising start-ups were named winners to the Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2020. These winners were announced by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs. Today’s grand final saw eight shortlisted start-ups pitching their proposal to a panel of judges.

The first, second and third place winners were BeeX, FUELSAVE and Vulcan AI. Judged on their proposed solution, business model, market opportunity, impact to the maritime industry and overall team capability, they each walked away with cash prizes of S$10,000 S$5,000 and S$3,000 respectively.

The SPC is a core programme under Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71 (PIER71), a collaboration between the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The fourth edition of the SPC received 187 applications from start-ups around the world and was conducted online for the first time. Many of these applications seek to automate processes and reduce reliance on manpower through solutions such as robots for hull cleaning, and virtual walkthrough of vessels for ship inspections, which is particularly beneficial in light of COVID-19. From the pool of highly qualified proposals received, 16 were selected, putting their teams into PIER71 Accelerate, a six-week market validation and customer discovery programme.

Focusing on areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, Internet of Things and robotics, all 16 finalists will be eligible to apply to MPA for a grant of up to S$50,000 to embark on pilot projects with maritime companies.

Mr Chee said, “In today’s age, what gives us a competitive edge is not capital but new ways to unlock value from our businesses. We must ensure that innovation thrives and flourish in Maritime Singapore. This calls for a collaborative approach. Government agencies such as MPA, academia, industry, and solution-providers must come together to translate innovative ideas into real-world solutions. Through SPC, we support technology start-ups to co-create solutions with the industry, which can be exported world-wide.” 

Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), said, “PIER71 is a collaborative effort that brings vital parts of the ecosystem together to fast-track technology solutions industry-wide. Our vision for this partnership with MPA is to raise the competitive edge of start-ups by injecting deep tech developed in Singapore, starting with those from NUS, to strengthen their offering to the industry, and to broaden their reach beyond Singapore.”

Grace Chia, CEO of BeeX commented, “PIER71 has been an extremely comprehensive acceleration programme, helping us refine our value propositions to maritime corporates. We are thankful for the mentorship, networking opportunities and guidance. The win is a great encouragement to our team, and we look forward to working with the ecosystem to improve underwater inspections.”

Twelve of the 2019 SPC cohort were awarded the MPA grant earlier this year and several have made headway with their prototypes in the maritime industry. Among the award recipients, two Singapore-based start-ups have also secured additional funding. Edufied (parent company of Marified) raised seed funding valued at nearly US$4 million, while Performance Rotors also secured funding from Dutch multinational Royal Vopak, a leading global tank storage company. Both have plans to expand their operations overseas.

A recording of the SPC 2020 final, as well as information on the finalists, are available at https://spc2020.pier71.sg.

SHARE THIS STORY