Start-ups receive $50,000 each to bring solutions to maritime market


Funding recipient Kanda, which uses virtual and augmented reality for simulation training, has developed a virtual environment based on a digital twin of a crude oil tanker, to simulate a Lock Out Tag Out safety procedure



The changes and challenges facing the maritime sector call for an acceleration in the digital transformation of the industry at large. Blockchain and other innovative technologies have entered the maritime sector with players from different industries reimagining their solutions to improve operational efficiencies, safety, sustainability, and more.

Against this background, PIER71 – Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71, a collaboration between the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, has played a pivotal role in organising and using the Smart Port Challenge (SPC) as a platform to galvanise maritime corporates, industry players and start-ups to come up with innovative solutions ready for market adoption.

Twelve start-ups from SPC 2019 have each been awarded $50,000 in grant funding from MPA. The funding will enable the start-ups to conduct prototype development and test-bed their near market-ready solutions.

Over the next year, the start-ups will work on pilot projects in collaboration with PIER71’s maritime corporate partners, who will provide subject matter expertise, test data, as well as a platform to test-bed their solutions. Their grant applications were assessed based on the viability of their solutions in addressing maritime challenges. Focusing on technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality (V/AR), blockchain, robotics and wearables, these start-ups are:

  • ASA Development
  • C-LOG
  • Cerekon
  • Dravam
  • Kanda
  • KoiReader Technologies
  • Marified
  • Megapixel
  • Newton Services Research (local entity of Delvify)
  • Performance Rotors
  • Tropical Renewable Energy Engineering

Upon the successful completion of the projects, the maritime corporates will be adopting the final products and solutions.

Dravam, an NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (NUS GRIP) alumnus, aims to provide comprehensive fuel quality data for a more transparent and efficient bunkering ecosystem. It is developing an on-board installable testing solution to augment the existing sampling method in the detection of contaminants. The solution scans the entire fuel transfer on the transfer line and provides near real-time information about the contaminants present in the fuel. 

Mr Vivek Premanadhan, CEO of Dravam, shared, “The grant shall be firstly utilised for developing a scaled-down prototype of the actual test-skid, which shall be used for training and testing our software modules, whilst operating with the various blends of available fuels in the bunkering market. Subsequently, the grant shall be used to execute the pilot-test on board the bunker tankers.”

Kanda, which uses virtual and augmented reality for simulation training, noted the timeliness of the grant as the company works to scale up its technology.  Project Manager Ms Germaine Rose said, “Our plan is to create a value-added Virtual Reality (VR) Lock Out Tag Out training scenario for Teekay, ensuring it helps seafarers to continuously receive hands-on training without the need to travel to a training centre, especially during this challenging time. We believe using VR to conduct training could be a game-changer in the maritime industry.”

A start-up that is in the process of securing its Series A funding is Performance Rotors. Having developed a proprietary drone that is neither reliant on GPS signals nor affected by magnetic deviation, CEO and co-founder Mr Keith Ng said, “This grant came in at the most appropriate timing and we will be using it to overcome the current limitations of our drones in measuring structural thickness.” Performance Rotor’s confined drone technology will reduce risks and costs associated with in-hull inspections.

Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), said, “Start-ups, addressing innovation opportunities created through the Smart Port Challenge, are bringing solutions to real problems faced by the maritime industry. By leveraging the extensive pool of talent from the University, the global network of resources from NUS Enterprise, as well as industry partnerships through MPA, PIER71 is playing a pivotal role in bridging the gap between innovation and market needs.”

Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA, said, “Although the global COVID-19 situation has caused widespread disruption, we push ahead with innovation in the maritime sector. Singapore continues to support the use of emerging technologies to transform the maritime industry, uplift the way companies do their business and strengthen our resilience as a maritime nation. These grants represent MPA’s commitment to supporting innovation as part of Singapore’s Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map.”

SPC 2020 will be open for submission from 4 June to 10 August.

By NUS Enterprise


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