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Top 10 Maritime Startups to Watch in 2020

The maritime industry brings solutions through regulation and not innovation. The industry is traditional and reluctant to embrace change. It is, however, more complex than that. Regulation is an obvious hurdle caused by the cross-border aspect of the industry. It results in immense complications when adopting innovation. While regulation is necessary, it can also stifle creation.

Thankfully, the major players involved have realised that there is an urgent need for innovation. Shipping companies, classification societies, venture capitalists and governments around the world have focused on the subject.

Founded in 2015, Port XL from Rotterdam is the world’s first maritime startup accelerator. Mumbai and Gdansk and London’s Startup Wharf, founded by Leonardo Zangrando, followed shortly after. Since then there have been maritime startup accelerators springing up all over the world – Seattle, Oslo, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Singapore, Lisbon, Marseille, New York, Barcelona among others.

Shipping entities have gotten in on the act. Lloyds, Maersk, Shell, Schulte, Eastern Pacific, CMA CGM, Wartsila and almost every other major player in the industry either have their own startup accelerators or are working closely with others to drive the next wave of maritime innovations.

However, a good investment is difficult to pin down. That is to say, investors need to fund projects that have a clear vision, and an earnest desire to solve a real, pressing problem.

On that note, here is the list of startups to watch out for in the maritime industry, in no particular order.

Nautix Technologies
Ship repair and maintenance is a very costly and complex business for ship owners. The outdated solutions that have been available to help with this process make an already complex process even more complex for the user. Because of bad specifications and difficulties in following up the shipyard, additional costs of 20% is very common (on projects averaging around 1.2 million USD).

Maindeck is a modern SaaS for the ship maintenance and repair industry, with a specific focus on dry-docking projects. They increase team efficiency with a tool designed to minimise friction between tasks, heavily reducing unforeseen costs and time spent at the yard. More impressively, they also scan project specifications and apply data science to generate content suggestions before its sent off to the shipyard or service providers.

They also offer a mobile inspection app for which you can assign access to selected parts of a project. This means you can give access to both internal and external people, allowing you to streamline all type of information through Maindeck, including that from service providers and others. The app of course functions offline, and automatically uploads when it detects an internet connection.

Maindeck is a very technology-savvy company. They take pride in being product and tech nerds, a stark contrast to the common sales cultures found elsewhere.

Although being a young company, they have already secured both Wilhelmsen and SeaDream to their client list.

CEO & Co-Founder of Maindeck, Sasan Mameghani said:

I started the company because as a former industrial mechanic I have seen and experienced the issues around dry-docking projects first hand. I realised that all the solutions available were outdated and knew that our team could create something way better for the industry. The secret says in creating a superior product lays in the intersection between an understanding of the industry and technology. We have always focused on building a strong team with experience from both worlds, and our modern approach has already put us ahead of competitors. With a strongly technology-focused team, we have the foundation to continue rapidly developing our great product. We are only at the starting line, there is a lot of great products in the pipeline. So the future will be even more exciting.

Closelink helps customers to find the right offer for their lubricant demand by providing the first cloud-based marketplace for marine lubricants. We’re bringing together global and local operating suppliers to ensure the best result for our customers. No matter if major or minor port, main or side route. We enable a reliable and cost-effective procurement of marine lubricants by digitising existing processes and building the groundwork for the world of tomorrow.

Closelink was founded in the heart of Hamburg (Germany) by three founders Philippe Lavarde, Tobias Schumacher and Eike Lawatsch. They combine several years of experience in maritime sales, software and product development. Today we are counting 10 employees with diverse background ranging from design, development, sales, accounting and marketing. Our team is building a future-proof product to tackle major challenges in maritime procurement.

Co-Founder of Closelink, Philippe Lavarde said:

“I have started the Closelink journey when I realised that the shipping industry, for many comprehensive reason, has waited far too long to embrace what will ultimately change its entire, inherent dynamics across the complete value chain. With our venture, we are playing an innovative role in a, at last, rapidly changing environment. Closelink will democratise market insight and allow a frictionless access to crucial information at any point of time to everyone whenever needed.

Nautix Technologies
At Nautix, we work single-mindedly on our mission: make the shipping industry safer and more efficient.

Seafarers plan and perform complex operations every day on ships. The workforce of the 21st century relies on their training, experience, and management tools, which have not kept up with the changing times. These tools are inefficient in minimizing human error. As a consequence – people are injured, equipment damaged, the environment suffers, and our industry bleeds billions of dollars year on year.

Our application makes planning and execution of operations easy and simplifies complex safety processes for the 21st-century workforce. When at home, they can predict when to start driving with google predictions – why not provide the same level of sophistication to their often risky tasks? AI-powered prediction offers an unprecedented level of input in planning and risk mitigation, thereby improving operational performance. This approach influences user behavior toward proactive safety, human error reduction, and increasing compliance.

Nautix Technologies — is uniquely placed through its IP, expertise, and its technical capability to build a comprehensive solution for ship operation management. Leading companies in the industry have identified us as a much-needed and long-awaited step towards improving safety and business efficiencies

CEO & Co-Founder of Nautix Technologies, Tarang Valecha said:

90% of trade happens by sea, and seafaring is still considered one of the most dangerous professions on the planet — right next to firefighting and deep-sea drilling. Silently, these men and women work at sea for months in hazardous and isolated environments – often lacking recognition for their efforts in keeping this world moving.

Nautix wants to make the lives of seafarers easier and safer – we believe in the collaborative future of humans and technology, enabling the shipping world to be safer and smarter – with a friendly and simple experience that is more the norm than the exception in today’s tech-savvy world. Nautix’s solution is made by mariners, for mariners. I have lived through these challenges and know our users’ strengths and capabilities. These challenges are vital opportunities for our design: we know the pain-points, and we are eliminating them, one at a time.

With experience from ship, shore & software – we are building a holistic solution with heart.

Thoughts on the future of the shipping industry?

Nautix challenges the status quo and wants to digitally transform the maritime workspace for over 2 million seafarers globally. Today, millennials have taken over the majority representation of the workforce, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2030 this hyper-connected, tech-savvy generation will make up 75% of the workforce. This modern workforce needs modern tools, especially the Maritime industry, where a shortage of labor, as well as skills, have been predicted. With increasing automation and advancement in the application of AI, it is our ambition to play a central role through innovation in supporting the current and future workforce, and the industry’s transition to autonomous shipping.

Seattle-based ioCurrents is increasing uptime and efficiency throughout the global maritime industry through our predictive edge analytics platform, MarineInsightTM. The MarineInsight platform compiles and analyses all data onboard in real time, creating a live digital twin of the vessel.

Proprietary machine learning models are used to identify anomalous behaviour and opportunities for efficiency increases with alerts sent to crew onboard, as well as the shoreside team. MarineInsight empowers operating companies to have visibility to both live actionable insights and historic data reports from their fleet. At ioCurrents we strongly believe in helping operating companies accelerate digitisation through our simple hardware install onboard and our intuitive platform.

Maritime operators around the world use MarineInsight to prevent component failures, increase fuel efficiency, minimise downtime, improve vessel and fleet health visibility, as well as reduce environmental impact.

What inspired the founders to start the company?

In 2015, Cosmo and Bhaskar were inspired to start ioCurrents after years working with geospatial IoT and sensor data, distributed networking and big data storage and analysis industries. Cosmo, originally from a maritime family on the east coast, saw the benefits that edge analytics could provide to the maritime industry. The problem Cosmo identified was an ever growing number of technology related complexities to the machinery in the maritime industry, leading to major progress as well as more problems and more confusing causes for downtime. After reviewing the opportunity with his partner, Bhaskar, they decided their unique skills and backgrounds were the perfect makeup to solve the growing global need for data visibility and predictive modelling in the maritime sector.

Thoughts on the future of the shipping industry?

We believe in empowering seafarers with real-time insights and ensuring that our platform sends insights shoreside with minimal bandwidth. While there may already be a monitoring solution onboard, raw data does not provide context on its own. The quality of the data is crucial – so the first thing MarineInsight does is aggregate all raw data in the same time series so every asset has the same timestamp, ensuring something as fundamental as what time something happened is consistent across systems. This standardisation and removal of data silos is the foundation for analytics applications that we build. Long term we see a whole ecosystem of applications for stakeholders across the maritime industry that can be built upon the foundation of high quality built-to-share data standards.

Founders of ioCurrents – Cosmo King, CEO, and Bhaskar Bhattacharyya, CTO

KNL Networks
KNL Networks provides a global real time access to data. KNL Networks have simplified digitalisation of vessels by providing an end-to-end solution for maritime, where KNL can integrate into any machinery on-board and collect data in a simple way, make on-board data processing and build database as well as transfer that data real time on shore making it available for shipping companies, and their selected 3rd party providers. All this is done in a secure way.

Digitalising maritime industry is a thrilling opportunity, both from business perspective, but also by giving us tools to contribute on making industry more environmentally friendly. Digitalisation is often considered as expensive and slow, but with KNL digitalising the vessel and having critical data available, visualised and usable for business, takes less than a week and costs less than €700 per vessel.

KNL system can be installed by crew and everything is remotely manageable, making maintaining the system fast and cost efficient. KNL uses proprietary shortwave radio network to transmit data. The advantages of own transmission channel are truly global coverage from pole to pole, extremely high security and easiness of integration on board, when ship IT networks can be left as is, and KNL provided dedicated channel for business data.

CEO & Co-Founder of KNL Networks, Toni Lindén said

We founded the company back in 2011 to re-invent almost forgotten radio spectrum and made radio communications more efficient and user friendly. For the past three months we haven’t lost a single customer data packet – globally.

When maritime industry started to look ways to improve efficiency and introduce new business models, we realised that our solution provides excellent way to provide global real time access to data in more secure and cost-efficient way than any other solution available.

All this is provided as a service model, where no upfront investment occurs. Not to forget the fact, that KNL solution is provided with military grade security making it safe solution to access business critical data.

FUELSAVE GmbH is an innovative energy efficiency enhancement and clean-tech company from Germany with a strong R&D background and IP portfolio and patents in various fields. FUELSAVE tries to combine own innovations with market leading suppliers and components to create turnkey solutions for combustion efficiency enhancement, energy storage, energy recuperation and waste heat recovery that help customers to save money while reducing the impact on the environment, to drive sustainable green technology that is economically viable.

With FS MARINE+ we developed an easy to retrofit HW solution ( 3-5 days including class approval and fine tuning) that is helping ship operators to reduce OPEX (10% NET OPX savings contractually guaranteed) and become more profitable, while reducing the impact on environment (30-80% NOX reduction / 40% PM reduction / 15% Co2 reduction, etc) with a unique and patented solution that is a potential game changer for shipping / power generation. The solution pays itself through the achieved NET savings.

CEO & Co-Founder of FuelSave, Marc Sima said:

We founded FUELSAVE to drive sustainable change that creates an impact and helps to serve the society and our environment by making various applications more energy efficient and combat climate change and global warming as well as to mitigate air pollution to reduce the health impact in support of a clean energy transition.”

Thoughts on the future of the shipping industry?

“The next decades in shipping will be focus on energy efficiency enhancement and driving a clean fuel transition to support the decarbonisation of shipping towards net zero while operators need to stay competitive.

C-LOG provides a blockchain-enabled platform for secure identification (DID). The platform enables cross-industry data collaboration, linking stakeholders from the entire maritime value chain in a trust system. Addressing fundamental administrative, operational and security challenges, the platform enables secure and transparent industry-wide ID & credential management leveraging Blockchain and AI.

The Maritime industry being part of critical infrastructure is at high risk and a severity for cyberattack. C-LOG is a paradigm shift to handling ID and data-privacy governed data. As part of handling data-privacy and lowering the risk for cyber-attacks through social engineering, the platform is digitising several paper-processes made possible by a trusted universal ID.

Managing Director & Co-Founder of C-Log, Kristina Lynge said:

I have always known I wanted to work with something that had an international and commercial aspect. I just didn’t know it ended up being about providing state-of-the-art technology to the maritime industry.

Thoughts on the future of the shipping industry?

The trillion-dollar difference.

People hold the greatest value now and in the future. With AI being able to measure the return on people, we will be able to know people better than they know themselves. When so much time is spent debating how AI and automation might replace roles, it’s easy to forget that the very same technologies have a huge role to play in augmenting and growing people.

With two-thirds of the human population concentrated around coastlines, alongside with growing threats from sea level rise and increased storminess, accelerated coastal development and changes to natural coastlines are inevitable. Over time, natural coastlines thus undergo severe changes, and in many cases are completely overtaken by ports, coastal defence measures, power plants, industrial facilities, and residential properties. As most marine flora and fauna reside in coastal areas, anthropogenic changes to coastlines are one of the key reasons for loss of coastal habitats, and for significant reduction of ecosystem services provided by urban marine environments.

ECOncrete developed a revolutionary science-based approach to eco-engineering of urban, coastal, and marine infrastructure, providing robust, environmentally sensitive concrete solutions for the ever-growing Climate Change threats such as sea-level rise and superstorms. The core innovation is a suite of science-based bio-enhancing concrete admixtures, complex surface textures, and 3D designs that act in synergy to increase the ecological value of breakwaters, seawalls, pier piles and alike, while improving their structural performance.
ECOncrete’s bio-enhancing concrete products have a reduced carbon footprint compared to Standard Portland cement-based concrete, due to a combination of proprietary admix integrating by-products and recycled materials, and unique ability to enhance biological processes such as biocalcification and photosynthesis which facilitate CO2 assimilation.

Furthermore, they support a rich and diverse array of flora and fauna in topical, temperate, and freshwater environments, as well as in terrestrial urban settings; contributing to the environmental value and operational life span of concrete infrastructure. The company’s products are designed to enhance biogenic buildup by marine organisms such as oysters, tube worms and corals that cover the substrate with a protective calcitic layer. This biogenic layer provides Bioprotection that contributes to the structures’ strength, stability and durability.

Founder of ECOncrete, Shimrit perkol-Finkel and Ido Sella said:

“We’ve seen beautiful marine environments, diving and exploring coral reefs, mangrove and kelp forests, in over 30 countries around the world. But we’ve also witnessed destruction, mainly due to us, people, building along coastlines, destroying fragile ecosystems. This problem is amplified with climate change threats. About 70% of coastal and marine structures are made of concrete, and concrete typically generates low diversity and dominance of invasive species. We decided to find a win-win solution. The challenge was tweaking the concrete composition to make it favourable for marine life, without compromising strength and performance. This is the value proposition of ECOncrete.

SecūrSpace is an online marketplace and software platform that connects companies looking for parking and storage options to those with dedicated or excess capacity. Our platform was built to combat issues caused by the lack of adequate space in and near major transportation hubs. Motor carriers, shippers and forwarders all contend with this issue on a daily basis – solving this problem is our specialty.

CEO & Founder of SecurSpace, Lance Theobald said:

I was inspired to start this company when I was working for the largest chassis leasing company in the US. Many of my clients were unable to grow due to a lack of available real estate in maritime transportation cities (LA, NY/NJ, etc.). I knew there were pockets of unused real estate in each of these cities but there was no easy way to find and secure this capacity. At the outset, we modelled our business after AirBNB and have since built a suite of management tools to better service the supply side of the marketplace.

With Arviem the ‘invisible’ flow of goods and finances is revealed and visualised to supply chain, logistics, security and finance professionals. Arviem provides supply chain visibility through real-time cargo monitoring services. Arviem collect sensor data on the location and condition of cargo in transit which is transferred to Arviem’s supply chain visibility platform. The transparency provided by Arviem enables our clients to improve their organisation’s ability to gain visibility on the real-time status of their supply chain network, reveal inefficiencies and discover possibilities for optimisation.

Arviem’s trusted, independent and reliable data provides business intelligence enabling our clients to anticipate and prevent disruptions in their supply and logistics chains and eliminate inefficiencies. They can identify inefficient and insecure shipping routes, optimise shipping methods, measure carbon footprint, improve quality management and compare the performance of logistics service providers while also reducing, managing and mitigating risks. Making sense of the data we aggregate is the primary driver of our product and service development activities. We are working on developing a portfolio of new services addressing various aspects of the supply chain. We have recently launched our supply chain financing and working capital management services and carbon footprint monitoring capabilities.

CEO of Arviem, Stefan Reidy said:

Due to globalisation supply chains have become more complex, they are exposed to an increasing amount of risk of disruption. With complexity more vulnerabilities and inefficiencies arise. Seeing the need of shippers and cargo owners for increased cargo security, transparency and visibility into the movement of their goods within their global manufacturing network and supply chains, Arviem has been established in 2008. Arviem’s hassle free cargo monitoring and supply chain visibility services rely on sensor data collected by Internet of Things (IoT) devices within the supply chain to provide valuable business insights to customers.

Thoughts on the future of the shipping industry?

These are exciting times! Supply and logistics chains are being transformed. Companies cannot ignore the external pressures and the arising technology trends that push them towards reevaluating their networks designing the supply chains of the future that are leaner and more efficient.

The supply chain, logistics and shipping industry is on the verge of transformation. The level of digitalisation varies within businesses. While some businesses are still managing their supply chains by resource and time intensive administrative processes heavily dependent on telephone and email communication and excel sheets, other businesses are light years ahead digitalising and automating their supply chain operations.

New technologies such as connected devices, networks of things, Big Data, machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing how the shipping industry operates. These technologies can bring additional benefits to companies either through automation, process optimisation or elimination of inefficiencies from supply chains. With the help of new technologies companies and solution providers are enabled to create new business models to solve the problems of today and the problems of the future.
Source: Nautix Technologies

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