MPA Drives Innovation to Enhance Singapore’s Hub Port Competitiveness

08 March 2017

The maritime sector is undergoing significant transformation. To enhance Singapore’s hub port competitiveness, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is leveraging technology to help maritime companies innovate and move into new growth areas.  MPA will be establishing the MPA Living Lab, and working with partners to set up three Centres of Excellence to deepen maritime R&D competencies. The MPA has also enhanced the Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF) for Manpower Development and the MCF for Productivity, to help Singaporeans up-skill for more knowledge-intensive jobs and maritime companies to adopt technology to improve business processes, respectively.


MPA Living Lab

2     The MPA Living Lab will provide a technology partnership platform, with sufficient scale and real operating conditions in the port of Singapore, that technology providers and industry partners can plug into for the co-development and piloting of innovations.

3     To be set up in 2017, the Living Lab will focus on developing capabilities in the following four areas:

  1. Data Analytics & Intelligent Systems. To harness data for smarter decision-making and optimised port operations. For example, a maritime data hub will be set up for industry and technology partners to co-develop innovative applications, such as just-in-time vessel arrivals or predictive analytics to forecast traffic conditions and potential collision for the next-generation vessel traffic management system;
  2. Autonomous Systems & Robotics. To enhance manpower productivity and safety, MPA will work with industry partners to provide framework conditions for the development and testing of autonomous vessels, drones and other autonomous systems. Sea spaces and regulatory guidelines will be provided for such testing activities;
  3. Smart & Innovative Infrastructure. To optimise land and sea space by leveraging innovative engineering and technologies. For example, the use of multi-purpose floating platforms for ship mooring and berthing, and timely supply of marine services; and
  4. Safety & Security. To enhance port and maritime safety and maritime cyber/physical security and resilience. It includes technologies such as smart sensors for detection of intrusions and monitoring of marine incidents.

4     Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA, said, “The MPA Living Lab will be the first of its kind in the region and will not only help Singapore to transform its maritime sector into a high technology industry through the test-bedding and development of new systems and capabilities for future port operations but also enable companies to test-bed locally developed solutions under actual operating conditions, bringing these technologies closer to commercialisation and internationalisation.”


Centres of Excellence


5     MPA will be partnering the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) to set up three maritime research Centres of Excellence (CoEs) within local Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) over the next five years. The first centre focusing on maritime environment & energy will be launched by MPA and Nanyang Technological University by the second quarter of this year.

6     The CoEs will help to deepen and sustain existing maritime R&D capabilities, and build up new capabilities to support the maritime industry and accelerate technology transfer.

7     Two other CoEs focusing on port operations and maritime safety will be established later.


Enhanced Co-Funding under MCF (Manpower Development and Productivity)


8     As business models evolve, there will be greater demand for highly skilled employees with knowledge of smart technologies. To boost the future-readiness of our maritime workforce, MPA has enhanced the Maritime Cluster Fund for Manpower Development (MCF-MD) to include a wider scope of topics for training programmes and longer durations for overseas training attachments.

9      MCF-MD will now be able to support technical training in IT skills, data analytics, and green technology with maritime applications; soft skills such as negotiation, communication and supervisory skills; and executive leadership courses. To encourage maritime companies to continue offering meaningful overseas training attachment opportunities to local employees, the maximum supportable duration has been extended from 6 to 12 months.

10     Finally, to give a further boost to companies’ productivity efforts, MPA has increased the co-funding for MCF-Productivity (MCF-PD) from 50 per cent to 70 per cent of qualifying costs, and expanded the scope of qualifying costs to include software licensing, specialised hardware as well as salaries of up to two company employees to carry out the productivity projects.  


11     The above enhancements have taken effect from 1 February 2017 and will be drawn from existing MCF funds.