PIER71 Unveils Top Three Start-ups at 2019 Smart Port Challenge


Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71 (PIER71) unveiled this year’s top three start-ups tackling issues facing Singapore’s maritime sector. Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, announced the winners at the third Smart Port Challenge (SPC) Grand Final.

The SPC is one of several industry-wide initiatives under 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), to build a vibrant maritime entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in Singapore. One of the highlights of PIER 71 is the PIER71 Accelerate – a five-week market and business model validation programme that comprises a two-day bootcamp at the end of September. Hailing from Singapore, Japan, and as far as Denmark and Canada, 24 start-ups were selected from among 200 applications for the Smart Port Challenge to come up with solutions to 28 challenge statements identified by maritime companies in the areas of port operations, shipping and maritime services.

The Smart Port Challenge culminated in the Grand Final today, which saw 10 out of 24 start-ups pitching to an audience of over 300 investors, corporate partners, venture capitalists, and maritime professionals. The three winners are:

Dravam – Dravam’s innovative fuel quality monitoring solution is a real-time early detection system for marine fuel, installed seamlessly onto a vessel. This patented solution is aimed at ensuring the quality of the fuel that is bunkered and addresses the industry’s need for quicker bunker quality testing.

KoiReader Technologies – KoiReader Technologies has developed an innovative machine learning visual recognition system that extracts unstructured textual data from images and translates them into usable structured data. This improves the accuracy of filling up logistics data for regulatory clearance and reduces the risks associated with mis-declaration of dangerous goods.

Teqplay – Teqplay has developed a platform that collects, bundles and refines public data. Combining that with machine learning and artificial intelligence, they create a shared picture that empowers the shipping industry to make smarter and better informed decisions in the planning and execution of port calls, and maritime supply chain.

Dr Lam said, “As the world’s busiest transhipment container port and a leading maritime hub, Singapore offers tremendous opportunities for start-ups in the maritime sector. In the two years since we started the Smart Port Challenge, the number of quality proposals we received from start-ups has more than doubled. Smart Port Challenge brings fresh ideas to pressing challenges such as digital disruption and tighter environmental regulations, and will inject life and vibrancy to the maritime innovation eco-system.”

Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise) said, “NUS Enterprise has a strong foundation in spearheading the start-up ecosystem. PIER71 is one example of how the university can foster collaboration between maritime companies, technology start-ups and individuals from the maritime ecosystem, such as business owners, suppliers, and operators to drive innovation and position Singapore as a vibrant and innovative maritime hub.”

Vivek Premanadhan, Dravam CEO & Founder, winner of the Grand Final commented, “It has been an exhilarating experience being part of Smart Port Challenge. PIER71 Accelerate is such a unique programme – the quality of mentorship, workshops and networking opportunities is second to none. The last five weeks has brought us closer to being market-ready and we are very honoured by this win and excited to be part of this ecosystem.”

After the Grand Final, PIER71 will continue to support all SPC participants through corporate matchmaking and mentorship to tackle the challenges identified by maritime corporates. They can also participate in community events with ecosystem partners, and engagements with enterprises and government entities. All 24 start-ups, including the ten who took part in the Grand Final, will also be eligible to apply for the MPA grant worth up to S$50,000 each, to help with the development of their minimum viable products or solutions.

The 24 start-ups, of which 15 are Singapore-based, focused on technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, robotics and wearables, among others. More than half of these start-ups have already received letters of intent from maritime companies to build on the solutions they propose.

The 2019 cohort also builds on the successes of PIER71’s first cohort unveiled in November 2018. SkyLab, a deep technology software start-up, is expanding into the Indonesian market as well as forming a strategic partnership with one of the largest data analytics firms in Chongqing, China. Claritecs, a digital bunker start-up, also announced their S$850,000 pre-series A funding from Bernhard Schulte INNOPORT last month.

Sea News, November 8