Maritime And Port Authority Of Singapore
Press Release 06 Jun 2018

Growing A Vibrant Maritime Entrepreneurial And Innovation Ecosystem Through PIER71

Launch of Smart Port Challenge 2018 To Catalyse
Greater Innovation and Digitalisation In The Maritime Industry

PIER71[1] – Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ Block71 – was officially launched today by Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health. The Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2018 was held in conjunction with the launch of PIER71. Both the launch of PIER71 and SPC were organised as part of Innovfest unbound 2018[2]. In the spirit of encouraging innovation, four MOUs were also signed at the event, to provide start-ups with more support in their innovation journey.

Launch of PIER71 

2 PIER71 is an industry-wide acceleration programme that supports innovation and encourages the maritime industry to venture into new growth areas through collaboration with technology start-ups. Set up by MPA and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore, PIER71 provides a platform for foreign and local companies, start-ups, venture capitalists, and mentors to exchange knowledge and form organic partnerships. It will contribute to building a vibrant maritime entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem, as envisioned by the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, and sharpen Singapore’s competitive edge. 

3 PIER71’s first innovation workshop, run by MPA, was for a cohort of digital officers from 23 maritime companies[3]. The workshop, which successfully concluded on 15 May 2018, covered the development of systematic processes for identifying and quantifying innovation opportunities, and equipped digital officers with the skills to translate innovative ideas into tangible outcomes for maritime companies.

To provide start-ups with more opportunities and access to resources such as mentors and networks, NUS Enterprise also extended its support to PIER71’s start-ups by signing four new MOUs with start-up hubs INNOSPACE and Rainmaking Innovation, as well as maritime companies Wärtsilä and Wilhelmsen (See Annex A for more details on the MOUs). This is in addition to an earlier MOU with PortXL to provide start-ups with market access in Rotterdam and Singapore.

Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA, said, “The launch of PIER71, in collaboration with NUS Enterprise, is part of the MPA’s broader innovation strategy under the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM). PIER71 will catalyse collaborations between the maritime companies, technology start-ups and adjacent sectors to position Singapore’s maritime industry for the next wave of growth enabled by digital technologies. Together with the setup of MPA, PSA and Jurong Port Living Labs for the test-bedding of new technologies and new concept of operations, we hope to position Singapore as a vibrant and innovative maritime hub.”

The PIER71 programme opens a new chapter for NUS Enterprise,” said Dr Lily Chan, CEO of NUS Enterprise. “Building on the foundation that NUS Enterprise laid in spearheading the start-up ecosystem, we are now fostering strategic partnerships to help bridge and provide platforms for our curated start-ups to engage with the flagship maritime industry and create opportunities for innovation driven growth."

Smart Port Challenge 2018

PIER71 also kicked off this year’s SPC – a six-month programme that aims to catalyse digital transformation in the maritime industry by bringing together maritime and technology players to work on identified problem statements. Like other start-up incubators and accelerators, the SPC consists of three phases: challenge statement formulation, funding support and product realisation.

Last year’s inaugural SPC saw 12 maritime companies participating. Seven start-ups – Brightree, Glee Trees, MyBot, SG Smart Tech, Simplus, Trabble and Xjera Labs – received grant support totalling $311,598 for test-bedding and developing prototypes with the Singapore Shipping Association, Jurong Port, BatamFast and Kanlian.

The number of maritime companies participating and contributing innovation opportunities in SPC 2018 has increased to 17 this year and PIER71 expects a total of about 200 participants. Besides cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000 for the top three proposals, selected finalists also stand a chance to be invited to join PIER71 ACCELERATE, a customised curriculum on building viable maritime tech start-ups, and receive a further grant of up to $50,000 from MPA to develop prototypes with maritime companies. These innovation opportunities will be released on 6 June during Innovfest unbound, and the closing date for proposals is 6 August 2018. All local and foreign start-ups are encouraged to participate in SPC 2018.


<End of release>


[1] PIER71 was previously known as the Maritime Technology Acceleration Programme.

[2] Innovfest unbound is organised by NUS Enterprise and London-based company unbound. It is a week-long series of events that showcase Asia’s most innovation developments, and is an anchor event of Smart Nation Innovations.

[3] Batamfast, CMA CGM, Jurong Port, Klaveness Asia, Lloyd’s of London (Asia), MOL Chemical Tankers, Ocean Network Express, OMC Shipping, OSM Maritime Group, Pacific International Lines, Pacific Carriers Lines, PSA, Sinanju Tankers, Singapore Cruise Centre, Symphony Creative Solutions, Teekay Tankers, Total Marine, Vopak, Wärtsilä Corporation and Wilhelmsen Ship Services

About the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) was established on 2 February 1996, with the mission to develop Singapore as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre (IMC), and to advance and safeguard Singapore's strategic maritime interests. MPA is the driving force behind Singapore's port and maritime development, taking on the roles of Port Authority, Port Regulator, Port Planner, IMC Champion, and National Maritime Representative. MPA partners the industry and other agencies to enhance safety, security and environmental protection in our port waters, facilitate port operations and growth, expand the cluster of maritime ancillary services, and promote maritime R&D and manpower development.

About the National University of Singapore (NUS)

A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. 

NUS has 17 Faculties and Schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multidisciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 38,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives. NUS also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.

NUS takes an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to research, working with partners from industry, government and academia, to address crucial and complex issues relevant to Asia and the world. Researchers in NUS’ Faculties and Schools, 30 university-level research institutes and centres, and Research Centres of Excellence cover a wide range of themes including: energy, environmental and urban sustainability; treatment and prevention of diseases common among Asians; active ageing; advanced materials; risk management and resilience of financial systems. The University’s latest research focus is to use data science, operations research and cybersecurity to support Singapore's Smart Nation initiative. For more information on NUS, please visit

About NUS Enterprise
NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond. It actively promotes entrepreneurship and cultivates global mind-sets and talents through the synergies of experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships, holistic entrepreneurship support and catalytic entrepreneurship outreach. Its initiatives and global connections support a range of entrepreneurial journeys and foster ecosystem building in new markets. These initiatives augment and complement the University’s academic programmes and act as a unique bridge to industry well beyond Singapore’s shores. For more information, please visit

For media queries, please contact:

Fouziah A Rahim (Ms)
Corporate Communications Department, MPA
DID: (65) 6375 1852 Email:

Carol Lo (Ms)
Marketing & Communications, NUS Enterprise
DID: (65) 6516 1003 Email:

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