04 June 2020


1    Good afternoon everyone, thank you for tuning in! I miss being able to see you and meet you in person. But in this new normal we are now facing, I’m glad we can still find ways to stay in touch and hold our events.

2    As we now shift our mindset to preparing for the new normal, it is useful that we gather here to discuss innovation opportunities in this difficult transition period. Because, now, more than ever, we need new solutions. And this is something that MPA has always, and will continue, to support.

3    I would like to share three messages today:

Singapore is committed to ensuring minimal disruption to global supply chains, continuation of business activities

4    Firstly, we must keep moving forward.

5    COVID-19 brings with it supply chain disruptions, but it also brings about opportunities for greater collaboration and partnership, both internally and externally.

6    In Singapore, we have kept our port open, to continue to bring goods in and out. We worked with over 40 ports around the world, on a common declaration to keep the global supply chain going. We rolled out financial support such as the MaritimeSG Together Package for companies.

7    We now need to prepare for the new normal. And this leads to my second message – seize opportunities to accelerate digitalisation and innovative solutions.

COVID heightens the need for innovation and digital solutions

8    We must move forward with the help of greater technological adoption.

9    COVID-19 has shown how crucial it is to build digital capabilities. This has been and will continue to be a priority for MPA.

  • The need to reduce face-to-face interactions gave greater push for ships to use electronic certificates for greater efficiency and port clearance.
  • Late last year, Singapore rolled out our digitalPORT@SGTM to facilitate digital transactions. Ship agents from more than 500 shipping companies can now submit, track and receive port clearance approval for arriving and departing ships through the portal.
10   Today’s Smart Port Challenge event is one key platform to develop innovative solutions for our maritime companies. I had a quick look at the 17 challenge statements for this year, and I saw many relating to smart ships and smart ports. This is highly relevant and will strengthen our maritime sector for post-COVID recovery and beyond.

Start-ups and VCs have an opportunity here to make a greater impact

11   Thirdly, we must move forward together.

12   We have been working with public and private sector stakeholders to ensure business continuity. We have been working with unions and relevant associations on our seafarers’ welfare.  New partnerships can and must continue to be forged.  It is not just about resilience, but also about nimbleness and creativity for new solutions.

13   Together with SSA, we recently launched the MINT Fund Call for Proposals to build greater post-COVID resilience. These are projects that require collaborative effort across the sector, targeting greater workforce, operations and service resilience.

14   We hope to work with you – start-ups and entrepreneurs – to develop innovative solutions for the industry. The time is ripe for escalating digital initiatives in the port and shipping sectors, and MPA will continue to support the start-up community in this.

15   Last year, we partnered with ESG SEEDS Capital to attract VCs and Corporate VCs to the maritime sector. This year, we are pleased to announce our PIER71 VC partners – INNOPORT, PSA unboxed, PCL, POSH and TNB Aura – with a common goal to deepen the maritime start-up ecosystem.


16   To conclude, I thank the expert panel and maritime innovation taskforce for working with our maritime corporates to curate the challenge statements.

17   I also thank you again for tuning in to the Digital Launch of our Smart Port Challenge 2020! I’m sure that you will find some exciting opportunities and potential partnerships.

18   Thank you and stay safe.