Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), Japan’s largest shipowner by fleet size, has established a ¥400bn ($38.7m) venture capital fund called MOL PLUS.
“MOL PLUS will make a broad range of investments, mainly in early and middle-stage startup companies around the world, that can reform ocean shipping business models and create new businesses from mid-to-long-term viewpoints,” the Japanese company explained in a release today.
The new business originated from an idea from Takuya Sakamoto via MOL’s 16-month-old group employee proposal system, which provides opportunities for MOL employees to foster out-of-the-box thinking in the creation of new businesses and services. In the first year of the system, Sakamoto, who joined the company in 2012, suggested the idea of creating the fund. Since July last year, he has been overseeing the launch of MOL PLUS.
Shipowners funding start-ups are increasing in number. Eastern Pacific, Maersk and CMA CGM are among the best known names in shipping to be actively investing in and working with start-ups.