The maritime start-up map

The maritime start-up map

Tabitha Logan, co-founder of the maritime start-up competition, The Captain’s Table, writes for Splash today, taking a look at the top innovation hubs around the world.

The maritime industry is neither traditional nor boring. If you still think so, where have you been? The industry has been taken over by an innovation frenzy. Nor-Shipping, Singapore Maritime Week and the Windward Conference were awash with start-ups eager to present their ideas and prototypes to investors and potential clients.

Credit needs to be given to the next generation of shipowners who have played a strong role in injecting a new excitement into the industry by combining ‘sexy’ concepts of venture capital and technology innovation with shipping. Examples include Gil Ofer’s EPS MaritimeTech Accelerator Powered by Techstars, a maritime accelerator jointly run by Eastern Pacific Shipping and Techstars, Innoport, the Schulte Group’s dedicated venture capital unit focused on maritime start ups and Amplifier, launched by Christian Oldendorff.

Where countries are concerned, Singapore, Norway and Hamburg appear to be the leaders in the innovation space, and the favoured place of business for maritime accelerators, incubators and venture capital firms as well as for creating maritime start-ups. Singapore, with strong support from the Singapore government, has done a particularly good job at branding and marketing itself as the hub for maritime and logistics start-ups. However, Singapore is poised to face friendly but strong competition from a silent competitor – Hong Kong.

Positioned conveniently as a conduit between China and the rest of the work, Hong Kong has leveraged upon its position as a global financial centre to become one of the world’s global fintech hubs and, now with the Greater Bay Area project, it has its eyes set on becoming a maritime and logistics start-up hub. The Greater Bay Area comprises 11 cities in southern China including Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Macau, Zhuhai and Guangzhou It has a population of 71m and covers a land area of 560,000 sq km, and is home to four of the world’s top 100 universities. Development of the Greater Bay Area is founded on coordinated and innovation driven regional development through the seamless flow of people, goods, capital and information. This enhanced connectivity provides even more convenient access for start-ups to capital, suppliers, customers and partners in China, from Hong Kong.

The government has also been doing its part to attract talent to the city with the announcement of the Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS), a fast-track arrangement for the admission of overseas R&D talent. Having already established itself as a fintech and insuretech hub, the ecosyetem within Hong Kong provides opportunities for collaboration across sectors and borders. Considering all that Hong Kong has on offer, the city is definitely one to watch out for as the next maritime and logistics start-up hub. But, regardless of whether it is Singapore, Hamburg, Hong Kong or London, we are just excited to see so much activity in the innovation space within the industry and can only hope that the energy of the next generation can infect the wider industry to actively consider problems which need to be solved and look to the start-up community for solutions. No longer should people refer to maritime as being in the dark ages as it is slowly but surely coming into the light.

The Captain’s Table is a pitch competition launched by The Young Professionals in Shipping Network (Hong Kong) and supported by local power players including Pacific Basin, TCC and the Caravel Group with Splash onboard as official media partner. Aimed at early stage and growth start-ups, The Captain’s Table bridges start-ups with its ecosystem partners which are specifically curated to meet each start-ups goals and needs. Applications to The Captain’s Table close on July 31. For more information, please visit: http://www.ypsnhk.com/captain.html

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