Opening Remarks by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Mr Chee Hong Tat at the PIER71™ Smart Port Challenge 2022 Grand Final

18 Nov 2022Speeches

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.     Thank you for inviting me to the 6th edition of PIER71TM’s Smart Port Challenge (SPC) Grand Final.

2.     I am glad to see over 200 attendees from the marinetech and marine innovation ecosystem here today. We have representatives from local and international start-ups, maritime companies, venture capitalists, incubators, academia, and government officials.

Importance of Marinetech and Innovation in Solving Maritime Challenges

3.     Technology and innovation are critical for solving the challenges that we are facing in the maritime industry.

4.     For example, the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance for ports to be resilient and agile, to deal with global supply chain disruptions.

5.     Port operators need to leverage technology and data to optimise processes, improve efficiency with Just-in-Time marine services, and develop smarter supply chain solutions.

6.     Another key challenge for the maritime sector is environmental sustainability and decarbonisation.

7.     Today, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping accounts for about 3% of global emissions. As a leading maritime hub, Singapore will do our part to support global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and build a greener and more sustainable maritime future.

8.     This will require long-term investments and close collaborations between the public and private sectors, in areas such as electrification, sustainable fuels and carbon abatement. When done well, we can turn these challenges into opportunities. When our companies innovate, and our workers are trained in new skills, we can develop solutions for sustainability and decarbonisation, and potentially scale them to the region and beyond.

Maritime Singapore as the Launch Pad for Maritime Innovation

9.     Singapore is a choice location for maritime innovation and development.

10.    Not only are we strong in research and development, but we are also home to the world’s busiest transhipment port. We also have a leading International Maritime Centre, home to over 150 of the world’s largest international shipping groups, and more than 5,000 maritime organisations, spanning functions such as shipping, maritime law, maritime finance, and maritime technology.

11.    These provide an excellent environment for start-ups to work with maritime companies to tackle practical problem statements, pilot and test-bed proposed solutions using the Port of Singapore as a Living Lab. If companies are able to demonstrate that their solutions work well in Singapore’s busy port waters and complex maritime ecosystem, it would be a clear vote of confidence recognised by the rest of the world.

12.    Singapore is committed to supporting marinetech innovation. Let me highlight some initiatives.

13.    Last year, we launched the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD). The GCMD brings together public and private players to catalyse collaborative projects to advance the deployment of low- and zero-carbon solutions in the maritime industry.

14.    In September this year, we officially opened Tuas Port. When complete in the 2040s, Tuas Port will be the world’s largest fully-automated port, with sustainability as a key feature. Port equipment like yard cranes and prime mover vehicles will be automated and powered by green energy sources such as green electricity and hydrogen-powered fuel cells. We will build green buildings, smart grid solutions and battery energy storage systems. These represent exciting opportunities for maritime innovation.

15.    By 2025, Singapore will be the first country in the world to have full 5G coverage across our port waters, opening possibilities for testing and deployment of remotely controlled ships, autonomous vessels, and other maritime innovations. I want to be quite clear, we are not the first to start 5G, but because of our compact nature, we are able to provide 5G across the entire port waters. This will be a first in the world.

16.    We are also building partnerships with like-minded ports around the world. Earlier this year, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Port of Rotterdam, and recently embarked on discussions with the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach on the establishment of green and digital shipping corridors.

17.    These corridors will focus on the implementation of low- and zero-carbon bunkering fuels, as well as digital tools to enhance the decarbonisation efforts of shipping and trial solutions for the international maritime community. Importantly, this provides a means to track and measure such efforts, thereby strengthening the confidence of regulators, international organisations, and companies.

18.    And of course, PIER71TM, which provides an ecosystem, regular workshops, and initiatives such as the PIER71TM Accelerate and PIER71TM Ascend programmes, and the Smart Port Challenge to link promising start-ups with companies.

19.    The joint efforts of our stakeholders in the maritime innovation ecosystem have contributed to Singapore being ranked as the Top Maritime Technology Hub in “The Leading Maritime Cities of the World” Report 2022, by DNV and Menon Economics.

Strengthening partnerships in the Maritime Innovation Ecosystem

20.    Even though Singapore’s maritime sector has been progressing well, we must never rest on our laurels. We should continue to stay on our toes and look ahead towards the future. We must work together to accelerate the development of the maritime sector, in areas such as decarbonisation.

21.    To further advance our efforts in this area, I am pleased to announce that MPA and the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) will be signing a Partnership Agreement today to formalise SSA’s support for PIER71TM’s start-ups.

22.    The partnership will provide PIER71TM’s start-ups with even more opportunities to receive mentorships from SSA domain experts to help validate their problem statements and solutions; and be supported by the Association in sourcing for trials and test-bedding opportunities amongst SSA’s members.

23.    This partnership will allow PIER71TM start-ups to access a wider network of SSA’s member companies and industry partners, and speed up their journey to grow and scale up their operations in Singapore and beyond.

Congratulations to Smart Port Challenge Finalists

24.    I would also like to congratulate the Smart Port Challenge 2022 Finalists here with us today. The finalist teams come from Singapore, South Korea, Germany, and the Netherlands, and have developed innovative and well-developed solutions focused on areas such as alternative fuels, management platforms, AI systems, and smart devices.

25.    It is not an easy journey to get to the finals. These finalists have made it from a long list of 146 applications across 24 countries. Today, they join the distinguished group of Smart Port Challenge Finalists, many of whom have taken their ideas further after the competition and introduced innovative solutions for the maritime industry.

26.    These include SkyLab, runner-up of the 2018 Smart Port Challenge, which formed a strategic partnership with another marinetech start-up iO3 to roll out a Maritime Control Centre (MCC) integrated communications platform to shipping lines; as well as Dravam, the winner of the 2019 Smart Port Challenge, which has installed a real-time early detection system for marine fuel quality on a bunker tanker, providing continuous monitoring of fuel quality.

27.    While our finalists have reached an important milestone, this is not the end of their journey. Rather, this is a launchpad where they can take their business ideas further, and showcase their capabilities and solutions to various maritime industry representatives here today. I look forward to hearing your pitches later.


28.    To conclude, I would like to thank NUS, PIER71TM, EDB, ESG, the Singapore Association of Shipsuppliers and Services (SASS), the Singapore Logistics Association (SLA), and the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) for your strong partnership with MOT and MPA, and your continued support for Singapore’s maritime innovation ecosystem. Many thanks also to the maritime companies which have provided challenge statements, mentorship, and guidance for this year’s SPC participants.

29.    Thank you.


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