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Speech by Senior Minister of State Dr Lam Pin Min at the Singapore Maritime Technology Conference

10 Apr 2019 Speeches

Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen

1.     I am pleased join you at the Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC) this morning.

A Maritime Industry Driven by Technology

2.     About a year ago, I launched the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM), to support the transformation of the maritime industry. Although there was some initial trepidation to transformation, I am glad to see the momentum picking up, and more companies stepping out of their comfort zone. We are seeing good progress made on several fronts.

3.     First, companies are using new technologies to transform their businesses and processes. For example, PSA and technology company 3D MetalForge are now developing the world’s first on-site additive manufacturing facility, to deliver on-demand parts for port customers. PIL has teamed up with IBM to explore the use of electronic bill of lading, enabled by blockchain, to improve the efficiency and visibility of the supply chain. Many companies are also partnering the Government to further their technology development. MPA’s Maritime Innovation Lab has been supporting 17 organisations working on innovative solutions for maritime applications, even before its official launch yesterday.

4.     Second, companies are investing more in R&D to build new competencies and carve a niche for themselves. One example is the Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS), or in layman terms, autonomous vessels. Such vessels can optimise ocean voyages, sail through high risk environments, and address the shortage of experienced seafarers. Some may say that fully autonomous vessels are not quite on the horizon yet, but companies such as ST Electronics, Kongsberg Maritime and Alpha Ori are pushing the boundaries in their R&D work. I believe in the not so distant future, we are likely to see vessels with greater levels of autonomy, with more sophisticated e-navigation systems and collision avoidance technologies that will make shipping safer.

5.     Third, more maritime start-ups are gaining traction with their new innovations, products and services. One of them is Ocean Freight Exchange, the winner of MPA’s 2018 Smart Port Challenge. It provides a neutral platform for dry bulk and tanker companies to optimise their ship chartering process using AI and predictive analytics. Based in Singapore, Ocean Freight Exchange has attracted investments from top venture capital firms and investors. We therefore encourage more start-ups to participate in the 2019 Smart Port Challenge, which will be launched in June.

6.     We will do more to support research and technology development in the maritime industry. Since 2015, MPA has co-funded maritime technology research projects from more than 80 companies through the Maritime Innovation & Technology (MINT) Fund. MPA will be inviting more project proposals in June this year.

7.     Looking further ahead, the Singapore Government is setting the strategic direction for research and technology in the maritime industry for the next 10 years. The Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI), in collaboration with MPA, has refreshed the R&D roadmap for the maritime sector till 2030. The roadmap outlines the key areas of focus for R&D such as next-generation port, strategic sea space management and sustainable maritime environment, which the industry can use as a guide to align their efforts.

Creating a Digital Network

8.     An important enabler of transformation is digitalisation. Digitalisation can help businesses enhance service levels, create new value-add, and more importantly, attract and retain talent by appealing to younger and more tech-savvy jobseekers. During the Ministry of Transport’s Committee of Supply debate last month, I had announced the Sea Transport Industry Digital Plan (IDP) to help SMEs with their digitalisation journeys. The IDP will provide a step-by-step guide to digitalisation, and a list of curated digital solutions in areas such as vessel management, robotic processing automation, and order booking and deployment. SMEs can choose the most suitable digital solutions and apply for grant support.

9.     I am pleased to announce that we will be setting aside $3.7 million for the next three years, to help SMEs adopt solutions in the IDP. We will start with ship agency and harbour craft companies, and will roll out the IDPs for other maritime sectors in the coming years.

10.    Beyond the IDP, we are also doing more to help our companies build deep technological and innovation capabilities. For instance, the Singapore Maritime Data Hub setup by MPA will provide an open platform, with rich datasets from the public and private sector, to spur development of creative digital applications.

11.    We will also create a community of support within the sector, so that we can learn from one another’s successes and failures, and encourage one another to push ahead. In partnership with the Singapore Shipping Association, MPA will invite digital officers in the maritime sector to come together to form the Circle of Digital InnOvators, or CDO. Members can benefit from technology-related trainings, workshops, learning journeys and more importantly, network and develop new partnerships. We started this initiative in 2018 with 23 digital officers and now, we have 46 on board. I encourage you to join us, expand this network and share experiences with one another.

Conclusion

12.    The maritime industry may be one of the oldest industries. But at its core, it is one that has been able to constantly innovate and reinvent itself. In the nineteenth century, the industry harnessed the power of steam engines, and has never looked back at wind-powered vessels since. Some 100 plus years later, the invention of containers fundamentally changed how we ship goods today. So, to all of you here, do not be afraid to find new ways of working. Seek out your competitive edge. Set the new standards of tomorrow.

13.    I wish all of you a fruitful conference ahead. Thank you.