Singapore awards S$1.625m to maritime digitalisation and 3D printing projects

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has announced the award of a total of SGD$1.625 million to 11 joint industry projects in the areas of maritime digitalisation and additive manufacturing for ship and marine parts.

“As the world’s busiest transhipment hub, Singapore must embrace technologies to ensure operations remain efficient,” said Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs.

“We believe that solutions that work in our busy waters are likely to work in other parts of the world. Hence, we proactively partner the industry and provide an environment that is needed to grow an innovative maritime ecosystem.”

Five of the projects address operational resilience and productivity needs, and are hoped to be able to contribute to the changing operational landscape of a post-COVID ‘new normal’ with their scheduled completion by the third quarter of 2021.

Another six projects will look at the development of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, with the goal of making Singapore a hub for just-in-time provision of marine parts.

The consortia behind these projects aim to trial the use of at least 26 different 3D-printed parts on board Singapore-registered vessels to test their viability in real life operations. These projects are expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2022.

MPA launched joint calls for proposals in these two areas with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) earlier this year and received 40 proposals from the maritime industry.

The selected projects have been co-funded by MPA’s Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund, which aims to support maritime companies to digitalise and trial technologies that can help to develop Singapore as a centre of excellence for maritime R&D and technology solutions.

“The varied JIP projects by SSA members’ reflect the increasing focus on digitalisation and sustainability to meet long-term business competitiveness,” said Michael Phoon, SSA Executive Director.

“We are very encouraged that from identifying some 100 ship parts in Phase 1, we will be trialling the use of at least 26 3D-printed parts on board Singapore-registered vessels in Phase 2. We look forward to the wider adoption and acceptance of such transformation technologies by the global maritime community.”

In related news, MPA has also announced the three start-ups chosen as winners of its Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2020, from a final shortlist of eight companies that were invited to pitch their proposal to a panel of judges.

The first, second and third place winners were BeeX, FUELSAVE and Vulcan, who walked away with cash prizes of SGD$10,000 SGD $5,000 and SGD $3,000 respectively.

The competition is part of the PIER71 programme, a collaboration between the MPA and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS). This fourth edition of the SPC received 187 applications from start-ups around the world and was conducted online for the first time.

That pool of applicants was reduced to 16 selected to join 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 of these companies will be eligible to apply to MPA for a grant of up to SGD$50,000 to embark on pilot projects with maritime companies.

“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 flourishes in Maritime Singapore. This calls for a collaborative approach,” said Chee Hong Tat.

“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.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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