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The Captain’s Table: Shipping’s Dragon’s Den

Shipping now has its own version of the Dragon’s Den, the hit BBC show where tycoons invest in entrepreniual inventors. The Captain’s Table has officially launched in Hong Kong this week, aiming to track down maritime’s next big invention. Created by the team behing YSPN (HK), a local, vibrant shipping networking association, the new initiative aims to connect innovators and startup entrepreneurs with the maritime and logistics industry.

$25,000 prize money is on offer, with submissions being sought between now and the end of July for innovative shipping business ideas. Eventually five finalists will be picked from the submissions in October. They will be flown to Hong Kong for a preparatory workshop in the lead up to the final where they will receive mentoring support with access to legal, commercial and technical advice from experts. They will also be introduced to industry leaders and access to further investment through YSPN (HK)’s extensive network. The whole process culminates Dragon’s Den style with a live pitch event during Hong Kong Maritime Week in November to investors and industry leaders. Among the ‘Dragons’ are Angad Banga of Caravel Group and Paul Over, a very famous name in local dry bulk circles. The whole process will be tracked by Splash, serving as media partner to the Captain’s Table.

Su Yin Anand, one of the creators of the Captain’s Table, explains the genesis for the competition.

“Those that know YPSN (HK) and the work we do will know that we are driven by the desire to create a sustainable maritime industry,” Anand says. Splash has reported on many lively debates by the Hong Kong organisation over the years.

“The industry has traditionally been late to adopt technology and is usually resistant to change,” says Anand, a lawyer for Australian mining firm, South32. “We hope that the Captain’s Table can help influence a change in mindset and focus minds, particularly in Hong Kong, on how the use of technology or other innovations can drive efficiencies and sustainability.”

Anand believes the biggest hurdles to innovation adoption in shipping is mindset and culture.

“Shipping needs to move away to from a traditional business model of rendering a service at low cost, towards strategies that are more focused on value-add and value creation,” she argues. “This requires businesses to get comfortable with the idea that technology may not yield immediate returns, but creates intangible product differentiation by enhancing the customer experience.”

Anand also believes our industry needs to be more forgiving.

“Shipping needs to learn to celebrate failures from innovations, and to learn from such failures,” she explains, concluding: “We are good at shared learnings when it comes to casualties and marine incidents. We should do the same with technology.”

Do you reckon you have shipping’s next great invention or business concept? Get your pitch ready and send it to the Captain’s Table by following the instructions in this link.


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


  1. Adoption of an industry changing concept will be challenged by the global corporates. Nothing Ventured nothing gained. Definitely going to pitch and disrupt the industry and represent South Africa. Alumni Trading

  2. Great initiative! We are so worried by Disruptors. Lets just be our own Disruptors and look at our industry from the outside! Wish you all the Best!

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