Expanded PIER71™ programmes to support Singapore’s development as maritime technology hub

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise have renewed their partnership to strengthen the maritime technology (MarineTech) ecosystem through enhanced and new innovation initiatives and start-up programmes.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will run for another three years, was witnessed by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Transport, at the PIER71TM Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2021 Grand Final on 23 Nov.

Under this partnership, MPA and NUS Enterprise will expand the scope of the PIER71TM (Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71) initiative to better support Singapore’s growing maritime technology or MarineTech start-up ecosystem. Aimed at strengthening the growth of MarineTech start-ups, attracting more investments, supporting internationalisation, and increasing tech deployment to the maritime industry, new programme components include:

  • PIER71TM Ascend – A 12-month, by-invite only scale-up programme, with curated masterclasses, industry networking sessions, and an immersion programme aimed at connecting start-ups to overseas markets, government stakeholders, and prospective maritime customers. Promising scale-ups can also apply for grant support of up to S$100,000 to scale their solutions, under MPA’s MINT-STARTUP scheme.
  • Investor Connection – Structured pitching and venture capital networking events will be organised for start-ups to gain access to investors and capital. This aims to increase the amount of investment into PIER71TM and partner programmes’ alumni.

The fifth edition of the Smart Port Challenge came to a close with WeavAir, EcoWorth and Spinoff Robotics emerging as the top three winners walking away with cash prizes of S$10,000, S$5,000 and S$3,000 respectively. eyeGuage also received a special mention by the judges. The eight grand finalists were evaluated on their proposed solutions, business models, market opportunities, impact to the maritime industry and overall team capabilities.

The top prize winner, WeavAir, expressed its thanks for the PIER71TM programme, adding that the mentorship quality, professionalism and guidance helped it to expand and find validation very quickly.

“PIER71TM is a top-notch programme recommended for all start-ups who are in or considering expanding in the maritime industry," added Ms Natalia Mykhaylova, Founder & CEO WeavAir.

Launched in June 2021, Smart Port Challenge 2021 offered 17 innovation opportunities co-created with 21 maritime corporates in five focus areas:

  • Smart Port;
  • Smart Ship;
  • Crew Safety, Training and Wellbeing;
  • Smart Maritime Services and Logistics; and
  • Green Technology.

Eighteen start-ups were shortlisted from over 150 applications and put through PIER71TM Accelerate, a seven-week market validation and customer discovery programme.

Solutions addressing the safety and well-being of maritime personnel featured strongly this year, in line with the increased attention paid by the industry on this focus area. Other innovative solutions include the application of artificial intelligence, data analytics and robotics to optimise the global supply chain, automate processes and create more sustainable shipping operations.

All 18 finalists are now eligible to apply for a grant of up to S$50,000 from MPA to embark on pilot projects with maritime companies.

“As Maritime Singapore emerges from the pandemic, we are going for growth. Our ambition to be a leading MarineTech hub is a key driver of this growth,” said Mr Chee.

“Through MPA and NUS’ renewed partnership and new initiatives, we will support MarineTech companies with access to markets, technology, funding, and talent, to enable good ideas to become scalable solutions.”

Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), added, “The impact that PIER71TM has made in growing the maritime innovation ecosystem to where it is today, is a testament to the synergies between MPA and NUS.

“The renewal of our partnership will bring on new initiatives that align with the strategic direction of attracting talent, technologies and investments that will strengthen the maritime sector’s ability to create new ventures as well as a more efficient and sustainable global supply chain.”

A recording of the SPC 2021 Grand Final, as well as information on the finalists, is available at https://spc2021.pier71.sg.


By NUS Enterprise