Wilhelmsen harks back to the days of the Vikings in next chapter of its digital odyssey

Norwegian maritime group Wilhelmsen’s pioneering digitalisation efforts continue apace with news of the funding of a start-up whose branding harks back to the days of the Vikings.

Raa Labs, backed by the Wilhelmsen group and Wallenius Wilhelmsen, was launched yesterday, aiming to harness data, drive digitalisation and adopt technology to take maritime forward. The company name Raa is the old Norse word for the yard that held up the square sail of the Viking longships. This highly efficient sail offered the Viking vessels superior speed and handling – securing a dominant position on the seas.

“We ensure that our customers consider the entire value chain from an innovation standpoint, securing long-term growth and return on investment. We’re not an applications company giving you just a piece of the puzzle,” said Raa Labs CEO, Ari Marjamaa. Marjamaa has been with Wallenius Wilhelmsen for the past seven years, serving as chief transformation officer.

Raa Labs’ initial customer deliveries range wide, from orchestrating the architecture necessary for harnessing data from hundreds of vessels in order to improve performance while reducing environmental impact and operational expenses, to tailor-made applications enabling effective collaboration processes across company disciplines and divisions. Raa Labs will also deliver new solutions, specially designed to meet needs or challenges in the industry, reducing the inefficiencies of today.

“What if you could compare prices and order commodities to your ship on the go, using a user-centred interface and simply getting what you need when you need it, with full transparency? The maritime industry isn’t spoiled with innovation, and our humble ambition is to help the maritime industry reinvent itself,” said Marjamaa.

“The success of any digital ambition in the maritime industry starts with an open infrastructure, access to data, and a customer-first mind-set,” Wilhelmsen stated in a release today.

“The current digital state of the maritime industry is lagging standardisation, disconnected data in monolithic silos and dated software. This creates inefficiencies and slows down innovation. The shapers of tomorrow’s industry are those who know how to utilise their expertise, data and customer insights to build software creating a competitive edge,” maintained Raa Labs CDO, Inge André Sandvik.

Located at Lysaker outside Oslo in Norway, Raa Labs taps directly into the networks of owners Wallenius Wilhelmsen and the Wilhelmsen group. Raa Labs has received $2m in seed investment from the owners.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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