Opening Remarks by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Amy Khor at The Smart Port Challenge Launch

30 May 2024Speeches

Prof Chen Tsuhan, Deputy President, Innovation and Enterprise, National University of Singapore,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen joining us in person and online,

1.     Good morning, and welcome to the launch of the PIER71 Smart Port Challenge 2024.

2.     The annual Smart Port Challenge is jointly organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise.

3.     Since its inception in 2018, the Smart Port Challenge (SPC) has been an important platform to not just drive the discovery and development of innovative solutions and global talents, but also to bring together solution providers with maritime companies, with over S$68 million dollars invested into marinetech start-ups thus far.

4.     Our efforts have borne fruit. There are now over 100 marinetech start-ups in Singapore. This strong growth was showcased in the Maritime Singapore Start-up Ecosystem Map that Motion Ventures and PIER71 launched during Singapore Maritime Week a few weeks ago. The Start-Up Ecosystem Map showcases active Singapore-based maritime start-ups, to facilitate link-ups with maritime companies, investors, and technology companies. 


5.     This year’s SPC features 14 challenge statements in four major categories: 

a.     First, Maritime Green Technologies, to develop and promote the use of green and clean energy technology in the maritime sector; 

b.     Second, Smart Shipping, to accelerate innovative solutions improving the efficiency and safety of ship operations;

c.     Third, Next Generation Ports, to enhance the productivity and efficiency of our port operations; and

d.     Fourth, Digitalisation to enable greater application of AI, Cybersecurity and Cloud technologies.

6.     Jointly crafted with our maritime partners, these challenge statements reflect the key issues facing the global maritime industry and the diverse opportunities that start-ups can participate in to shape its future.

7.     For the first time this year, we are also launching the SPC internationally. This is a reflection of the global nature of shipping, and recognition that the challenge statements apply globally. MPA’s Regional Offices in Brussels, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Tokyo will partner NUS’ overseas offices and the various BLOCK71 locations around the world to host a series of roadshows. The roadshows will introduce the SPC and challenge statements to start-up communities overseas.

8.     The international launch will bring together a more diverse range of startups to collaborate and develop solutions that could enrich and transform the industry.

9.     We welcome technology startups from around the world to submit your proposals. Selected startups will undergo a 12-week accelerator programme starting in September, and can apply to MPA for a startup grant for proof-of-concept and pilots under the Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund (MINT) upon graduation.

10.    As the industry has come to recognise the growing maturity and viability of the marinetech start-up ecosystem, we will also be introducing a new category of prizes sponsored by our corporate partners and will share more information in due course.


11.    I am pleased to announce the award of our MINT grant to five startups from last year’s cohort. They are: 3Y Energy, Microsec, Logipeace, Nautisense and Sealor Tech.

12.    Having developed their proposals in last year’s accelerator programme, they will be working with our maritime partners to execute their pilot projects in areas such as biofuel blend testing, cybersecurity, and digital solutions. Congratulations again to the awardees.


13.    Our PIER71 alumni have also made great progress.  Many have received VC funding and internationalised. Allow me to highlight three such startups - BeeX, Green COP, and SunGreenH2:

a.     BeeX participated in SPC 2020 and was also part of the pioneer Ascend cohort last year, which supported the scaling and internationalisation of startups. Their Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle has been deployed to conduct seabed searches, underwater structural inspections, underwater ecological monitoring, as well as inspections at offshore wind farms.

b.     They have also expanded into new markets such as Germany and the Netherlands, and plan to enter Asian markets such as Malaysia;

c.     Green COP participated in SPC 2022 and was also awarded the MINT grant funding last year. In February this year, Green COP secured funding from a group of angel investors, including local green energy solutions firm Ken Energy.

d.     Their pilot plant in Johor has just commenced operations, and aims to produce the first tonne of sustainable biofuels from plant-based biowaste by the third quarter of this year. This is a huge market, and the demand will increase;

e.     SunGreenH2 participated in SPC 2022. They have worked with Naturgy, a Spanish natural gas and electrical energy utilities MNC, to install their Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) electrolyser prototype in Spain. The prototype has achieved 82% conversion efficiency, which is world-leading for AEM electrolysis.

e.     Building on this initial success, SunGreenH2 will be installing a larger 50 kilowatt electrolyser at the same site by the second half of 2024. This will support the application of green hydrogen for maritime transport in future.

14.    It has been encouraging to follow the growth and success of our PIER71 alumni as they expand operations and scale up their product offerings. We are proud of the immense value they bring to the industry.


15.    We are committed to supporting the growth of the maritime ecosystem, and welcome global startups and partners to work with us. By collaborating together and spurring innovation, we can solve the complex and cross-cutting challenges the maritime industry faces and chart its future course.

16.    If you are an aspiring entrepreneur or a maritime start-up anywhere in the world, the Smart Port Challenge 2024 awaits you.

17.    Thank you all and I wish you a fruitful journey ahead.



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