Creating a tailwind for maritime innovation: Who are the investors?

15 Jul, 2020

In the midst of preparing for your Smart Port Challenge 2020 submission, we invited a panel of Venture Capital partners to share their experience, investment approach and expectations, as well as how they see start-ups playing a role in accelerating maritime innovation.


Among the panel are:

Charles Ludwig, Director of Ecolabs, Centre of Innovation for Energy and partner in SEEDS Capital co-investment programme

Haymon Sinapius, Investment Manager of INNOPORT, responsible for Asia

Elton Fong, Vice-President of PSA unboxed, the corporate innovation and venture capital arm of global port operator PSA International


The panel discussion began with panelists addressing what they look out for in start-ups. Elton first shared with us the philosophy behind their investment approach:

  1. Whether the start-up is meaningful to their business
  2. Whether a long term relationship could be established
  3. Whether PSA can value add to the start-up
  4. Whether the investment is profitable 


Adding to that, Haymon mentioned INNOPORT generally looks for seed-stage start-ups with a solution that is close to commercialisation or has entered the market. They also like to see solutions that they can validate, start-up teams that are enthusiastic and can demonstrate market potential. Besides the points raised by both Elton and Haymon, Charles added that Ecolabs is interested in solutions that are based on clean and sustainability technology. They are also interested in entrepreneurs who think about the entire value chain, from generating, using and disposing of the technology.


Next, they highlighted the reasons why they are looking into maritime start-ups now. This is due to a high volume of government and regulator initiatives in recent years as well as an increase in the number of accelerator programmes available now. This resulted in an expansion in the maritime ecosystem, which provides maritime corporates with a platform to call for new technology.


Other than funding, they also provide other strategic support to start-ups as well. Haymon mentioned that INNOPORT has a pool of experts to evaluate the solution and provide mentorship and market strategies. They can also provide start-ups with opportunities for pilot projects. As for Ecolabs, start-ups will have access to experts in various technology spaces who can help create a step change from an R&D perspective. 


Lastly, here are some of the technology trends they are interested in:

  1. Automation, robotics and autonomous vehicles 
  2. Video Analytics, AI and data analytics
  3. Blockchain and electronic documentation
  4. Environmental-friendly technology – Decarbonisation 


Join us tomorrow, 16 July, 4pm (SGT) for insights from Jurong Port on Machine Learning for Manpower and Equipment Deployment Planning and Yusen Logistics on Efficient Data Exchange with Non-System Integrated Container Freight Station (CFS).

Register here!


Don’t forget to submit the Smart Port Challenge 2020 proposal template (download here!) and your company’s pitching deck by 10 August 2020 here!