Med Hubs: Marseille’s tech aspirations

In our ongoing series of Mediterranean port city profiles, today we look at Marseille’s impressive maritime start-up scene.

Few cities in Europe have more start-up incubators than Marseille, a place that is increasingly seen as among the most tech-savvy in France.

Accélérateur M, Incubateur Belle de Mai, Le Carburateur, Marseille Innovation and NetAngels are some of the names generating a tech buzz in the city.

Also among the notable accelerators is ZEBOX, created in 2018 by the city’s best-known shipping line, CMA CGM. In less than four years, ZEBOX has supported more than 55 start-ups, building successful businesses that have raised tens of millions of dollars and created scores of new high-skilled jobs.

“ZEBOX accelerates digitalisation, automation, and sustainability by harnessing new technologies including AI, IoT, Big Data, and robotics,” a spokesperson for CMA CGM tells Splash.

In order to accelerate the development of innovation, CMA CGM also launched March TANGRAM. TANGRAM, which takes its name from a Chinese puzzle that requires creativity and deep thinking, is a new place of collaboration built around two major challenges—developing skills and accelerating innovation. The project is all about harnessing collective intelligence, bringing skills together and looking ahead to the world of the future. All of the group’s employees around the world will be given access to training while an apprentice training center has also been created to meet the need for professionals in high-demand areas and to train people for the jobs of the future.

Another notable developer of maritime solutions is the French Smart Port in Med platform, created by the regional government, the port, the local chamber of commerce and Aix Marseille University. The platform has annual challenges and has helped nurture many start-ups.

The port has positioned itself as a digital data hub with the creation of new sectors in the digital economy to generate value and new sources of jobs: data centers, submarine cables, new services linked to the deployment of 5G, artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart port data.

Among homegrown tech talent there is Ci5, a cargo flow management system developed by Marseille Gyptis International, in which the port is a shareholder.

There’s also the CO2 calculator developed by Searoutes in partnership with the port. It calculates the environmental footprint of a ship’s route as well as offering the possibility of comparing the carbon footprint of different routes for a given journey with the option of selecting different port transit points and modes of transport.

The port is also assisting a variety of companies in carrying out a variety of landmark blockchain trials.

Across the Mediterranean maritime hubs are developing, offering a full range of services and establishing themselves at shipping’s top table. Splash identified the five leading maritime capitals in the region – Athens, Genoa Limassol, Marseille and Monaco – and assigned correspondents to report on their individual strengths for a special glossy magazine. Splash readers can access the full magazine online by clicking here.


Splash is Asia Shipping Media’s flagship title offering timely, informed and global news from the maritime industry 24/7.
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