Joint Media Release: Singapore Maritime Institute to Support Next Phase of Maritime R&D Activities with Funding and Partnerships

14 October 2021

11th Singapore Maritime Institute Forum discusses the role of research and development to enhance maritime safety in a digital era

  The eleventh edition of the SMI Forum, organised by the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI), kicked off today. Themed “Maritime Safety in the 4.0 Era: Breaking New Frontiers’, this year’s SMI Forum highlights the role of research and development (R&D) towards enhancing maritime safety and efficiency. 

2 The event was graced by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Transport. In his opening address, Mr Chee outlined the key role of innovation, deep-tech and research in enabling Maritime Singapore to remain relevant and ahead in global competition. Mr Chee also highlighted how SMI had been instrumental in setting the R&D direction for the local maritime industry and congratulated SMI on achieving its 10-year milestone. To support SMI in pursuing its mission to grow Singapore as a leading global maritime research hub in Next Generation Port, Smart Shipping, and Green Technologies, Mr Chee announced that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will be allocating S$80 million of funding to support SMI’s R&D activities for the next five years, from 2022-2026. This is in addition to funding under the Maritime Transformation Programme provided by NRF in 2019 that is managed by SMI.     

3 This year’s SMI Forum was held as a hybrid event at the Singapore Polytechnic and streamed virtually to around 200 maritime professionals and academia around the world. 

Celebrating SMI’s 10th Anniversary 

4 Established in April 2011, SMI celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year. A special commemorative video was launched at the SMI Forum to celebrate SMI’s journey and achievements over the past decade in driving maritime research and innovation to build up local maritime R&D capabilities. 

5 Said Mr Wong Weng Sun, Chairman of SMI Board and Governing Council, “Throughout the past ten years, SMI had worked closely with the industry and research community both in Singapore and overseas. These international collaborative initiatives with strategic overseas research organisations further enriched and facilitated impactful global R&D exchange and open innovation with our Centres of Excellence. We shall continue to deepen our bilateral R&D relations with our existing international research partners and forge new ones to expand our knowledge frontiers and global R&D network.”

6 Mr Wong added, “SMI’s vision and goal for the next 10 years is to establish Singapore as a world-class Global Maritime Knowledge & Innovation Hub with a refreshed mission to make Singapore a leading global maritime research centre of excellence in three key areas of Next Generation Port, Smart Shipping, and Green Technologies. SMI will share more details in the months ahead, and we invite you to join us in our next lap to deliver greater impact through maritime R&D.”

New Navigation Research Simulator Positions Singapore as a Leading Training Hub for Ship Crew

7 Mr Chee also launched Southeast Asia’s first dedicated research simulator for safe navigation - the Advanced Navigation Research Simulator (ANRS). Set up at the Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety (CEMS), a Centre of Excellence jointly established by SMI and Singapore Polytechnic (SP), it consists of a full mission Ship Bridge and a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) System which simulates ship navigation and VTS operations. The simulator is equipped with state-of-the-art sensors to capture ship crew’s behaviours during training. It allows the CEMS to work closely with Singapore Maritime Academy at SP and industry partners to enhance the training assessment and delivery for ship crew using Artificial Intelligence. 

(Please refer to Annex for more information on ANRS)

Inking of Maritime R&D Collaborations

8 At the event, Mr Chee also witnessed the inking of several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs):

MoU on R&D Collaboration between CEMS and Wärtsilä Voyage Pacific 

Wärtsilä Voyage’s comprehensive collaboration with CEMS covers assistive technologies for use on-board ships and during training, simulators to study human behaviour and competency to enhance the safety of navigation, infusing wearable technologies. It also covers the development of training guidelines and contents for remote operations. Lastly, scenario-based “Standards Validation” simulation for autonomous vessel research will also be an area to support Singapore’s pursuit in Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship development. The projects are scheduled to be implemented over the next two years. 

MoUs with Industry to Advance Maritime Artificial Intelligence Research in Singapore

SMI and three industry partners, Kongsberg Digital AS, RightShip and Wärtsilä Voyage Limited, signed MoUs today to cooperate on a Maritime Artificial Intelligence (AI) R&D programme. Recognising the need to create an environment to promote data-driven innovation, and to drive increased use of data-driven tools, applications, and technologies in the maritime industry, SMI will collaborate with the various MoU parties to catalyse Maritime AI applications over the next two years.

Mr William Hodgman, the Australian High Commissioner to Singapore, Mrs Benita Lindström, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Finland to Singapore and Mr Andreas Aure, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy joined Mr Chee in witnessing the MoU signings. 

Renewal of MoU between SMI and University of Turku, Finland to Promote Maritime R&D Activities

SMI and the University of Turku (UTU) in Finland first signed an MoU in 2016 to jointly promote and collaborate on maritime R&D activities, and will renew the MoU for another 5 years. SMI and UTU seek to further pursue innovation and deepen R&D collaborations in SMI’s renewed R&D focus areas in Next Generation Port; Smart Shipping; and Green Technologies.

Mrs Benita Lindström, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Finland in Singapore joined Mr Chee in witnessing the MoU signing. 

Renewal of MoU between Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and China Waterborne Transport Research Institute

MPA and China Waterborne Transport Research Institute also renewed the MoU signed in 2019 to collaborate on research. Under the MoU, WTI and MPA will continue cooperation in the field of maritime and port affairs, research and development. 

Seeking Solutions for Automated Quay Crane Adoption through Maritime R&D Call

9 The launch of a new maritime R&D call on automated quay crane (QC) jointly by SMI, MPA and PSA was also announced at the SMI Forum. Open from 14 October 2021 to 5 January 2022, the aim is to support research and development of automated systems and novel concepts for full automated QC operations. The intended solution should address three focus areas to enhance vessel side operation:
  • Reliable and fast human and obstacle detection under all-weather condition.
  • Advance algorithm to integrate sensor, image and control signals technology to navigate a QC spreader automatically through non-standardised environment.
  • Robust wired and/or wireless communication to transmit sensors’ data from the QC spreader to the QC Programmable Logic Controller.
10 Said Mr Tan Cheng Peng, Executive Director of the Singapore Maritime Institute, “SMI recognises the importance of establishing close linkages and partnerships with local and international industry and research communities, to further drive and propel maritime research and development collaborations in Singapore. The MoUs signify SMI’s commitment to foster strategic collaborations with diverse stakeholders, to build a stronger maritime R&D ecosystem and together, devise solutions to address complex challenges to be future-ready in the maritime domain.”