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Singapore launches PIER71 to grow a vibrant maritime entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem

On 6 June,
Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport and Ministry
of Health Dr Lam Pin Min launched
the Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ Block71 (PIER71) and Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2018 to catalyse greater
innovation and digitalisation in the maritime industry.

is an industry-wide acceleration programme that supports innovation and
encourages the maritime industry to venture into new growth areas through
collaboration with technology start-ups.

“The launch of PIER71, in collaboration with NUS Enterprise,
is part of the MPA’s broader innovation strategy under the Sea Transport
Industry Transformation Map (ITM). PIER71 will catalyse collaborations between
the maritime companies, technology start-ups and adjacent sectors to position
Singapore’s maritime industry for the next wave of growth enabled by digital
technologies,” said Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA.

Set up by MPA and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of
the National University of Singapore (NUS), PIER71 provides a platform for
foreign and local companies, start-ups, venture capitalists, and mentors to
exchange knowledge and form organic partnerships. It will contribute to
building a vibrant maritime entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem, as
envisioned by the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, and sharpen
Singapore’s competitive edge.

“The PIER71 programme opens a new chapter for NUS Enterprise,” said Dr Lily
Chan, CEO of NUS Enterprise.

“Building on the foundation that NUS Enterprise
laid in spearheading the start-up ecosystem, we are now fostering strategic
partnerships to help bridge and provide platforms for our curated start-ups to
engage with the flagship maritime industry and create opportunities for
innovation driven growth.”

PIER71’s first innovation workshop, run by MPA, was for a
cohort of digital officers from 23 maritime companies. Concluded on 15 May
2018, the workshop covered the development of systematic processes for
identifying and quantifying innovation opportunities, and equipped digital
officers with the skills to translate innovative ideas into tangible outcomes
for maritime companies.

Four MOUs signed

To provide start-ups with more opportunities and access to
resources such as mentors and networks, NUS Enterprise also extended its
support to PIER71’s start-ups by signing four new MOUs with start-up hubs
INNOSPACE and Rainmaking Innovation, as well as maritime
companies Wärtsilä and Wilhelmsen. This is in addition to an earlier
MOU with PortXL to provide start-ups with market access in Rotterdam and

The MOU between NUS Enterprise and INNOSPACE
will allow both parties to jointly scout for start-ups in China and Singapore.
Both parties will also share resources and allow start-ups in PIER71 and
INNOSPACE to access each other’s mentors, networks, programmes and activities.
In addition, the collaboration widens the deployment opportunities of PIER71
curated start-ups in China and vice versa.

The MOU between NUS Enterprise and Rainmaking
Innovation will see both parties collaborate to attract and anchor venture
building activities focusing on the maritime and logistics sectors in
Singapore. This is part of Rainmaking Innovation’s ambition to build a
dedicated “Transport Venture Studio” in Singapore. This collaboration will be
supported by existing initiatives under NUS Enterprise and Rainmaking
Innovation including PIER71 in Singapore and Pier47 in Denmark; and will in
addition to venture building provide an additional avenue for PIER71 to help curated
start-ups with market access opportunities in Denmark and elsewhere. As a first
and concrete step, PIER71 and Rainmaking Innovation will be collaborating on a
“venture exploration program” in Singapore tailored to leading maritime and
logistics companies.

The MOU with Wärtsilä will support PIER71 with
their maritime expertise in areas like ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore
connectivity solutions in Singapore, Germany and Finland. Wärtsilä will also
spearhead seminars, lead workshops, and provide mentorships to the curated
start-ups as well as the start-up communities in Singapore and strengthen the
development maritime communication related applications. Meanwhile, NUS
Enterprise will support Wärtsilä in establishing their networks with the
start-up communities in Singapore.

Through the NUS Entreprise-Wilhelmsen
partnership, PIER71 will provide outreach platforms for Wilhelmsen to share
their knowledge of shipping and maritime services with the start-up ecosystem
in Singapore. PIER71 will also review proposals submitted by start-ups or
students in relation to problem statements posted by Wilhelmsen for the
shipping and maritime service industries.

Smart Port Challenge 2018 

PIER71 also kicked off this year’s SPC, a six-month programme that aims to
catalyse digital transformation in the maritime industry by bringing together
maritime and technology players to work on identified problem statements. Like
other start-up incubators and accelerators.

This year’s SPC consists of three phases: challenge
statement formulation, funding support and product realisation.

The number of maritime companies participating and contributing innovation
opportunities in SPC 2018 has increased from 12 last year to 17 this year and
PIER71 expects a total of about 200 participants.

Besides cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000 for the
top three proposals, selected finalists also stand a chance to be invited to
join PIER71 ACCELERATE, a customised curriculum on building viable maritime
tech start-ups, and receive a further grant of up to $50,000 from MPA to
develop prototypes with maritime companies.

These innovation opportunities will be released on 6 June
during Innovfest unbound, and the closing date for proposals is 6 August 2018.
All local and foreign start-ups are encouraged to participate in SPC 2018.

Both the launch of PIER71 and SPC took place at Innovfest
unbound 2018, an anchor event of Smart Nation Innovations and a week-long
series of events organised by NUS Enterprise to showcase Asia’s most innovation


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