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MPA Singapore signs multiple MOUs to drive innovation, digitalisation, automation and human capital development

At the launch of Singapore’s Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map,five Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were signed between Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and various partners to underscore the collective commitment of stakeholders to drive innovation, productivity and human capital development in the transformation of Maritime Singapore.

Boosting participation of startups in maritime industry

MPA and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore, signed an MOU for a period of three years to jointly execute the Maritime Technology Acceleration Programme (MTAP). It aims to encourage Singapore’s maritime industry to accelerate innovation, experimentation and venture into adjacent/new growth areas through working with tech start-ups.

The collaboration will include a residency partnership at Block 71 within the JTC Launchpad @ one-north, and both parties will jointly organise activities under the MTAP.

One of the core activities is Smart Port Challenge (SPC), which aims to attract start-ups to tackle challenges in the maritime industry. The SPC is an annual competition that discovers and attracts global start-ups to tackle challenges in the port, shipping and maritime logistics domain put forward by maritime corporates. Start-ups will be connected to participating industry partners through a series of ideation workshops. The next SPC is expected to be launched in April 2018 during Singapore Maritime Week.

Shortlisted start-ups from the SPC will develop their prototypes through a 10-week curriculum. They will spend this time contextualising, developing and enhancing their prototypes, augmented with mentorship and training. At the end of the 10 weeks, start-ups will pitch their solutions at a demo day to a judging panel and successful start-ups will be provided grants to carry out proof-of-concept or product development projects with industry partners.

Ecosystem building activities will be organised to increase awareness among start-up communities on the opportunities in maritime and port industry, as well as increase interactions and collaborations between maritime corporates and start-ups. There will be a series of ‘Kopi-chat’ sessions and workshops, co-organised by MPA and NUS Enterprise throughout the year, to encourage corporate innovation adoption amongst maritime corporates.

Digitalisation of trade and maritime documentation

A 3-way MOU has been signed between MPA, Singapore Customs and SSA (Singapore Shipping Association) to jointly look into the digitalisation of trade and maritime documentation in the industry. Through this collaboration, the parties aim to promote digitalisation, by showcasing the value gained through productivity, time and cost savings.

The focus areas of this MOU will include collaboration with multiple industry stakeholders to digitalise the documentation required across the maritime industry and leveraging suitable technologies such as distributed ledger technology or blockchain to achieve greater assurance of trust and integrity of the shipping documentation passing through the supply chain players.

The parties to the MOU will also work on the development of standards for the digitalisation of maritime-related documentation with industry partners. MPA, Singapore Customs and SSA, together with the partners in the maritime industry will work closely together to identify and prioritise relevant maritime-related documentation for digitalisation and one such key document is the bill of lading (“-BL”). They will also drive the development of a supporting legal and governance framework. The outcome of the digitalisation efforts of the BL will be implemented through the National Trade Platform to leverage the efforts to reach out to the wider trade and supply chain community to promote the adoption of eBL.

Mr. Ho Chee Pong, Director-General, Singapore Customs, said, “The MOU signifies Singapore Customs’ commitment in working with the public and private sectors to enhance cross-border trade efficiency and facilitate more seamless data exchange. Implemented through the National Trade Platform, the initiative to digitalise the BL will leverage technology to bring about greater convenience to maritime industry players and productivity gains for businesses. Singapore Customs is excited to embark on the digital transformation journey with our maritime partners and to realise the vision of the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map.”

Robotic process automation technology in the ship agency sector

Ship agencies are important to ship owners and operators in coordinating critical commercial functions and fulfilling a wide range of essential services such as port and crew clearances. As part of the co-operative efforts to improve productivity in the ship agency sector and transform the roles of ship agents to take on higher-value jobs in future, MPA, the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and Glee Trees Pte. Ltd. have signed an MOU on a proof-of-concept (POC) for the development of a shipping agency tool.

The proposed shipping agency tool will be using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology to allow ship agencies to automate manual processes such as data entry and validation to reduce the time-intensive and repetitive nature of existing workflows. The POC will be initiated jointly with several ship agencies and upon successful conclusion, could be rolled out to other ship agencies subsequently in need of such a solution.

“SSA is pleased to be part of this national narrative which recommends that ship agencies in Singapore move towards an Excellence Model. Automated robotic intelligence that leverage on both structured and unstructured data to streamline job processes is a welcome initiative to transform the agency model. This transformation will facilitate more retention of talent, and also paves the way for existing employees to develop new skillsets in data analytics. At the same, it will enable the sector to attract more talent into the industry,” commented Mr. Esben Poulsson, President of SSA.

Developing human capital

Under a tripartite 5-year MOU between MPA, Jurong Port Pte Ltd (JP) and the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), the parties will collaborate to equip port employees with future-ready skills to enhance capabilities, increase workplace safety and productivity to support JP’s transformation into a next generation multi-purpose port. The MOU, which will last for five years, will see MPA, JP and NTWU work together to build competencies of port employees through practical and immersive experiences such as internship, work-study programmes and overseas training attachments. The parties will also leverage the Jurong Port Academy to deliver technical training to its workforce and groom future industry leaders in support of the next generation multipurpose port.

Another 5-year, 4-party MOU between MPA, PSA Corporation Limited, Singapore Port Workers Union (SPWU) and Port Officers’ Union (POU), the parties will work on a host of human capital development initiatives to support the transformation towards the next generation container port. The MOU, which will last for 5 years, will cover training and development of port employees, enhancement of capabilities, and outreach efforts to elevate the profile of maritime careers. These initiatives will help equip port employees with vital new competencies, and attract youth and mid-careerists into the port sector.

Featured image: Zairon/ CC BY-SA 4.0

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