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Inmarsat study identifies critical role for maritime start-ups

Ronald Spithout, president Inmarsat Maritime Ronald Spithout, president Inmarsat Maritime

A new study commissioned by the Inmarsat Research Programme and conducted by PUBLIC shows the key role start-ups and connectivity will play in driving maritime industries along the road to digitalisation.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"} The study finds that more bandwidth connecting ships to shore at lower cost than ever before is empowering a new breed of single-minded innovators to bring the true benefits of digitalisation to the shipping and offshore sectors.

The report, ‘Trade 2.0: How Startups are driving the next generation of maritime trade’, co-authored by Nick Chubb and Leonardo Zangrando, locates the maritime sector at an inflection point; open to big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, at a time when emissions regulations are pushing it away from the fossil fuels that have framed its business model.

Estimating that the Ship Technology (ShipTech) market is worth US$106bn as a whole today, the report predicts its value rising to US$278bn by 2030. Significantly, in what represents the first ever market value estimate, it goes on to predict exponential growth for maritime start-ups. The projection is based on direct input from 100 start-ups and two years of tracking 240 active start-ups by the authors’ database of maritime innovation.

The report says that, in 2018, just US$4.2bn (£3.4bn) of digital spending went to start-ups and small innovators, with the rest going to corporations that also sell operational technology and hardware. However, as barriers to consume digital services at sea come down, the total spending on digital services from start-ups and small to medium sized enterprises (SME) will rise to over $111bn by 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate of 120 per cent.

Ronald Spithout, president Inmarsat Maritime said: “These are exciting results for our industry, showing that start-ups and investors should see maritime as offering significant market opportunities for the next ten years.”

Inmarsat has joined forces with start-up programmes Rainmaking Trade and Transport Impact (T&TI) and Bluetech Accelerator, which support the potential of the IoT in maritime, ports and the supply chain. Inmarsat seeks to help innovators find a route to market via the high-speed Inmarsat communications infrastructure that connects over 160,000 vessels, ports, road and rail networks worldwide.

The new report indicates that maritime start-ups raised nearly $200m in venture capital investment in 2018, just four years after the creation of the world’s first accelerator dedicated to the sector. Last year, 25 programmes existed, with 226 start-ups collectively ‘graduated’ to date.

Also featured are case studies of start-up solutions to enhance ship and port operations, and ship management. These include drone-based remote inspection from RIMS BV, approved by nine class societies, and the automated crew travel system from C Teleport.

Inmarsat also highlights the fact that several of the standout innovators are UK-based. These include: Workrest, a smart crew logger of rest hours for any device, to ensure compliance; Green Sea Guard, a sensor-in-funnel plus reporting solution to verify emissions compliance; the HiLo solution to reduce risks by recording, analysing and feeding back data on ‘high frequency, low impact’ incidents to ships; and the constantly updated and voyage-specific BunkerEx pricing portal.

“As this important report shows, it is more important than ever for start-ups, corporate suppliers and ship operators to collaborate,” said Mr Spithout. “We’re championing open innovation, collaboration and partnership, and reaching out to identify opportunities to co-research and co-create new digital products with external innovators to serve our existing customers and open up new markets. Exciting new collaborations with some of the start-ups covered in this report are bringing game-changing digital products to the maritime industry.”

The report is available to download at  {/mprestriction}

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Digital Ship magazine provides the latest information about maritime satellite communications technology, software systems, navigation technology, computer networks, data management and TMSA. It is published ten times a year.


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