S$30m in start-up VC funding up for grabs in Singapore’s Smart Port Challenge

The 2021 edition of the Smart Port Challenge (SPC), launched by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), will make S$30 million of potential venture capital funding available to selected maritime start-ups.

IMC Ventures, Motion Ventures and MOL PLUS will join the network of venture capital (VC) partners taking part in the PIER71-led programme this year, with maritime technology start-ups making their case to access the S$30m (approx. US$22.3 million) of potential funding from the individually-managed funds and benefit from the maritime and entrepreneurial expertise available.

For SPC 2021, seventeen ‘innovation opportunities’ have been co-created with 21 maritime organisations in the areas of: Smart Port; Smart Ship; Crew Safety, Training and Wellbeing; Smart Maritime Services and Logistics; and Green Technology.

Start-ups are invited to submit proposals for consideration within these sectors, with shortlisted start-ups gaining access to PIER71 Accelerate, a six-week market validation and customer discovery programme alongside a global network of partners with mentoring, workshops and masterclasses.

Entrants will have the opportunity to win cash prizes of S$10,000, S$5,000 and S$3,000 respectively, with finalists eligible to apply for MPA MINT-STARTUP grants of up to S$50,000 to pilot their projects.

Now into its fifth year, SPC has supported close to 60 start-ups to date through the PIER71 Accelerate programme. Seven start-ups from last year’s SPC have been awarded MPA start-up grants for prototype development and test-bedding, bringing the total grant funding disbursed to past PIER71 start-ups to about S$2 million.

Over the next 12 months, these start-ups will collaborate with maritime corporate partners on pilot projects that focus on the use of autonomous robotics, vision analytics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

“While Maritime Singapore has remained resilient during the pandemic, we should ride on this momentum to build even stronger capabilities and position ourselves to grow further and be ready for the future,” said Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport.

“Innovation in the area of maritime technology (Marinetech) will be key. Marinetech is a fast-growing area with a promising future. Singapore is well-placed to develop this sector as we have strengths in both maritime and technology.”

“By bringing together problem statements and solutions for the maritime sector, Smart Port Challenge has become a key pillar of our efforts to develop a strong Marinetech sector in Singapore.”

The closing date for submission of proposals for the Smart Port Challenge is 10 August 2021.

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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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