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12 Apr 2019 Updated 12 Apr 2019

Keynote Address by DCEO Ted Tan at Singapore Maritime Technology Conference






Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 



1. Good morning. I am pleased to join all of you at this Singapore Maritime Technology Conference, a key event under the Singapore Maritime Week 2019. For our overseas participants, welcome to Singapore.

2. I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to the Maritime Port Authority (or MPA) for organising another successful Singapore Maritime Week. 

3. The theme for this year’s Singapore Maritime Week - “Driving Connectivity, Innovation and Talent” – is very timely as we address the rapid disruption in the maritime sector globally. There are numerous emerging technologies, covering autonomous vessels, drones, Just-In-Time optimization and electronic bills of lading enabled by blockchain. The application of these technologies are disrupting traditional businesses. This reinforces the urgent need to transform our maritime cluster through innovation so that companies remain competitive and are able to capture new growth areas. 

4. Today, Singapore has a holistic ecosystem to foster collaborative innovation and technology adoption. I would like to make 3 points: 1) Blue Ocean opportunities; 2) Network Singapore; and 3) Alliance for Innovation.

Singapore – an ideal Launchpad for maritime startups to grow and access Blue Ocean opportunities 

5. Firstly, Blue Ocean opportunities. Our geographical advantage and strong connectivity to the world, coupled with a business-friendly environment allow enterprises to make best use of Singapore as a global maritime hub for business growth and to identify Blue Ocean opportunities instead of competing head-on in overcrowded areas resulting in nothing but a bloody “red ocean” of competitors fighting over a shrinking profit pool.

Leading Maritime Hub

6. Port of Singapore has been consistently named as one of Asia’s best sea ports1 and world’s largest bunkering port2. Home to a vibrant maritime community which comprises over 140 international shipping groups in the container, bulk, tanker, offshore and liquefied natural gas sectors, Singapore is the ideal launchpad for startups to testbed innovative solutions with leading corporates and government agencies, including MPA.

7. Last year, we saw increased participation from both the corporates and startups in PIER71’s Smart Port Challenge 2018. 122 startups across the world came to propose solutions to 20 problem statements from the maritime industry ranging from port, shipping and maritime services to logistics. This spirit of market-led, open innovation is important in bringing about innovative solutions from businesses to serve their industry needs.

8. In addition, PortXL, the first global accelerator that focuses on the port, maritime, transport and logistics, chemicals and refinery, and energy sectors, set up its office in Singapore last year. PortXL’s outfit seeks to focus on startups with disruptive, scalable business propositions that can be launched within a year. They chose Singapore as its Asia-Pacific headquarter because of our strong connectivity, innovation capabilities and thriving maritime and trading ecosystem.

Network Singapore

9. Secondly, Network Singapore. Singapore has a pro-enterprise environment enabled by a stable regulatory and financing framework. We have a robust intellectual property (IP) framework to provide the much needed protection for innovation. A common challenge faced by some companies and startups is making the decision to file for patent protection at the right time. The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (or IPOS) provides bespoke advisory services to help businesses maximize the value of their intangible assets. Startups that require professional advice on the necessary IP protection can turn to IPOS for assistance.

Springboard for Expansion into Asia and Beyond

10. Singapore is blessed with the geographical advantage and with our strong network of air, sea and digital connectivity globally, it allows enterprises to access the growing markets of China, India and Southeast Asia. Backed by deep historical, social and cultural ties with our Asian neighbours, Singapore is an ideal springboard for growth-oriented enterprises, to establish regional business networks and forge win-win partnerships.

Whole-of-Government approach to support the different business needs of startups

11. Last year, as part of the Whole-of-Government approach, Enterprise Singapore launched an online national startup directory, the Startup SG Network, for players in the startup ecosystem to connect with one another and seek potential partnerships. The network currently has a pool of 2,800 startups and over 200 multiplier partners.

12. To date, more than 1,000 startups have been supported through various Startup SG initiatives. It is indeed an exciting time ahead for innovative startups from around the world to start and scale-up in Singapore.

Physical and Digital Infrastructure

13. Some of you may be familiar with the Launchpad@One-North in Singapore. The Economist calls it “the world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem.” For the maritime players we now have the MPA Living Lab, which offers a real operating environment and maritime data for the testing and validation of solutions and technologies, on both land and sea.

14. There is also the Maritime Innovation Lab facility housed at PSA Vista serving as a co-creation platform for projects such as remote pilotage and next generation vessel traffic management. Out at the sea, there are designated anchorages to facilitate the trials of marine drones, autonomous vessels and wireless communication technologies in port environment.


15. We understand that funding is important for startups. The Startup SG Equity initiative funds innovative technology startups through co-investment from the government including SEEDS Capital and 3rd party investors. In 2018, we co-invested S$36.5 million into 52 startups in various industries, catalysing about S$118 million in private investments into these startups.

16. One of the startups is Portcast, a Smart Port Challenge 2018 finalist, that uses proprietary machine learning and real-time trade data to provide predictive global cargo flows. Their solution helps maritime and logistics players to price dynamically and utilize their assets more efficiently.

Alliance for Innovation and Internationalisation

17. Through Enterprise Singapore’s 36 overseas centres, in-market multipliers and innovation hubs across multiple cities via the Global Innovation Alliance (or GIA), we will help more startups, with global ambitions, to seize overseas opportunities.

Driving collaboration in market-led innovation and capability building

18. Businesses, research institutes or institutes of higher learning and government can collaborate to drive an innovation-based economy. One such successful collaboration includes ShipsFocus, a startup providing chemical shipping market intelligence and digitalisation solutions. ShipsFocus collaborated with Stolthaven Singapore (Stolt Nielsen’s3 terminal arm in Singapore) and the Institute of High Performance Computing, a research institute under A*STAR, to apply AI and big data analytics to minimise tanker’s waiting time in the port and improve terminal facilities utilisation.

19. Within the private sector, there are ample collaboration opportunities between MNCs or Large Local Enterprises and SMEs. PSA has launched a corporate venture capital arm, known as PSA Unboxed. With a fund size of S$20 million, PSA Unboxed will invest in 10 – 20 startups, with the aim to revolutionise container terminal operations, streamline global supply chain logistics and enhance the efficiency of international trade, with better visibility and security. Beyond funding, PSA also share their processes and open up operational berths at Pasir Panjang Terminals as testbeds, for startups to test their integrated systems in a live environment.

20. Such collaborations often lead to mutually-beneficial outcomes. Let me share one successful example from PSA Unboxed. Today, Singapore has a fast growing network of more than 170 hauliers, comprising 2,000 trucks and 20,000 trailers. Haulio, a startup that is incubated and invested by PSA Unboxed, developed a B2B haulage service marketplace and a mobile app to improve visibility and reliability for both hauliers and end customers. This leads to the optimisation of trucks usage through resource sharing and in turn, mitigate traffic congestion within the dockyards, helping PSA improve its turnaround time.

21. The launch of EPS MaritimeTech Accelerator, a partnership between Eastern Pacific Shipping and Techstars, also shows us that maritime corporates are gearing up for innovation. I encourage you to tap into the available pool of government resources, industry accelerators and partners, to support you in your innovation and growth journey.


22. In conclusion, let’s THINK BIG, pursue blue ocean opportunities and “killer apps” or new products and services that might rewrite the rules of the game. Let’s “START SMALL” after thinking big. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon for one potentially big product, you may wish to break the idea down into small pieces for testing, leveraging on the network of resources for feedback. Let’s not fall in love with our own ideas but seek new ideas through collaborative innovation and ACT FAST. I urge all of you to re-imagine the possibilities, THINK BIG, START SMALL and ACT FAST to co-create innovative solutions for a vibrant maritime industry.

23. I wish you a fruitful conference. Thank You!



1Source: "Singapore named “Best Seaport in Asia” for 30th time at the 2018 Asia Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain Awards (AFLAS) held in Shanghai on 15 May 2018", Business Insider, 17 May 2018

2Source: “Singapore remains top bunkering port in 2018”, The Straits Times, 15 January 2019

 3Leading global operator of sophisticated chemical and parcel tankers.