05 June 2017



Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening and a very warm welcome.


  1. I am delighted to see so many of you here at the launch of the Smart Port Challenge 2017 or SPC 2017 in short. I would like to start by thanking Dr Lam for gracing this occasion despite his busy schedule. This is one of his first, if not first official event for the maritime sector, and we are glad that he chose the Smart Port Challenge to signal the importance of leveraging on technology to make our ports and maritime services smarter.

  2. To our co-creators of SPC 2017 who have taken precious time off their busy schedules to mentor the SPC 2017 participants, thank you. I would also like to express our appreciation to NUS Enterprise for providing us with the venue.

  3. This evening, we are pleased to have over 190 participants registered for the event, representing 90 start-ups and tech companies, 8 IHLs, and 9 Venture Capital (VC) firms. 



Global Maritime Digital Transformation Trends


  1. Maritime transportation is essential to the world’s economy as over 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea. Over the last few decades, the maritime industry has undergone many changes as a result of market developments, industry consolidation, the advent of new technologies and Industry 4.0. On technology adoption, some may say these transformations are not happening fast enough while others fear it may happen too fast. My own view is that we can certainly move faster in encouraging what is essentially a very conservative industry to embrace greater use of technology.

  2. Let me now highlight a few on-going game changers. First, ships are becoming smarter and increasingly connected as they are being equipped with the latest sensor technology via the Internet of Things (IoT), which monitors everything from a ship’s speed, engine performance to the temperature of its cargo. This allows for the application of data analytics and machine learning technologies that will optimise the entire shipping ecosystem especially in areas of ship routing, asset tracking, equipment monitoring, and condition-based maintenance.

  3. Secondly, the industry has started to explore the development and testing of autonomous ships such as the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) led by Rolls-Royce. Although these are early days yet for shipping, this is not so for land transport where driverless cars are already a reality. The development of autonomous shipping will not just lead to automated ships but more intelligent, efficient and safer ships.

  4. Thirdly, we are seeing how major shipping lines such as Maersk and CMA/CGM have started working with technology partners to test out blockchain solutions to reduce the huge volumes of paper trails involving tens of millions of shipping containers across the world. When fully adopted, this is also likely to revolutionise and disrupt traditional ways of operations in the maritime-logistics industry.


Digitalisation for Maritime Singapore


  1. On our part, MPA has been championing greater digitalisation and automation of the maritime sector. We have given this greater priority in our development of the Industry Transformation Map (or ITM) for Sea Transport of which Innovation is a key pillar. The ITM will ensure we keep abreast of these impending technology disruptions while building a vibrant innovation ecosystem to drive competitiveness and new growth areas.

  2. One example of a recent project we have sponsored is MPA’s MoU with Alpha Ori, Lloyd's Register and NUS’ Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine (TCOMS) on the use of data analytics in ship management. Under the MoU, we aim to jointly establish a Centre of Innovation and conduct joint research in areas of data analytics for smart shipping, use of robotics and unmanned systems in port and shipping for operations, maintenance and inspections in hazardous zones, as well as maritime cybersecurity.

  3. On autonomous systems, MPA has started discussions with PSA, ST Electronics and DNV-GL to develop and test-bed smart and autonomous harbourcraft. We are also working with the industry to promote automated underwater ship hull cleaning operations and develop advanced drones for ship inspections and delivery of goods. 

  4. At the national level, the Singapore Customs is also leading the development of a National Trade Platform (NTP) to take the place of TradeNet and TradeXchange. This will be a National Single Window for Trade where importers and exporters would have access to all government-related and commercial trade services on a single, open platform. MPA and Singapore Customs are working together to promote the development of innovative digital services such as the electronic bill of lading and sea freight e-commerce on the NTP. 

  5. With growing interest in hyper ledgers, MPA is also exploring the use of blockchain to optimise our port documentation processes as well as to set up a maritime data hub to promote the sharing of data within the maritime industry. MPA will also collaborate with industry and technology partners to co-develop innovative applications such as predictive analytics that will be able to forecast traffic conditions and just-in-time vessel arrivals for MPA’s next-generation vessel traffic management system.

  6. There are also opportunities for setting up digital platforms to digitise end-to-end supply chain processes in the ship-brokering, ship chandelling and bunkering sectors as well as in the development of online transport network apps like Uber and Grab for ferries, among others.

  7. The scope for digitisation in the maritime industry is immense. For Maritime Singapore to stay ahead of the competition, we must continue to innovate and invest in our future capabilities. Through initiatives such as SPC 2017, we hope to catalyse innovation in the maritime sector through closer partnerships with the government, industry partners and start-ups in the maritime space.

Smart Port Challenge 2017


  1. SPC 2017 builds upon the previous two MPA Smart Port Hackathons held in 2014 and 2015. The newly revamped SPC 2017 will synergise maritime industry players with start-ups and VC communities to generate innovative solutions leveraging digital technologies such as IoT, data analytics and artificial intelligence to tackle some of the most pressing challenges identified in consultation with the co-creators.

  2. Some of the challenge statements include: How can MPA enhance navigational safety and achieve better management within our limited sea space? What tools can be applied by our port operators so container terminal operations can be more effective? How can the application of augmented and virtual reality help PSA Marine reduce training and certification costs for their pilots and harbourcraft crew? How can Jurong Port coordinate the arrival schedule of delivery trucks and lighters against the availability of their terminals? How can these ease congestion and improve safety and productivity for all parties?

  3. Within the complex shipping and logistics environment, shipping lines like CMA CGM, PIL and NYK are always looking to apply solutions to refine their forecasting capabilities and improve visibility of the end-to-end cargo flow for customers by seeking ways to track their containers’ location.

  4.  In the bunkering sector, perhaps a more efficient and collaborative platform can be set up to handle the checking of credit ratings as well as improve transparency in the market. These are just some of challenges identified by our co-creators and I understand that the complete set of challenge statements are distributed via email to registered participants in the briefing kit.   

  5. This year, we are expanding our collaboration with the Port of Rotterdam with a common challenge to explore ways to improve port-to-port linkages that will facilitate faster port clearances and just-in-time vessel arrivals. We hope our partnership with the Port of Rotterdam will pave the way for more of such collaborations with other ports in the future.

  6. Besides SPC 2017, we will also explore collaborations with other Government agencies such as SPRING and JTC to leverage their existing start-up support mechanisms such as the startup@SG scheme and their network to grow maritime technology start-ups, and at the same time attract VCs into the maritime innovation ecosystem. Further details will be announced in due course.



  1. We are at the forefront of massive digital growth. With all the key stakeholders represented here today, I am confident that SPC 2017 will be a conduit for a wider catalyst, leading the way for new ideas that businesses can translate commercially.

  2. The next couple of months will be exciting as we look forward to receive, evaluate and shortlist potential SPC 2017 proposals. I look forward to seeing innovative ideas, solutions and prototypes presented on Demo Day on 22 September. Until we meet again at Demo Day!

  3. Thank you.