SINGAPORE’S senior minister of state for foreign Affairs and transport Chee Hong Tat announced two initiatives at the fifth Singapore Maritime Technology Conference.

The first initiative is a new S$10-million Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) fund grant scheme is to provide maritime technology start-ups in Singapore a leg-up to develop scalable solutions.

The second initiative is that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is pushing for wider industry adoption of digitalisation initiatives such as electronic bills of lading (eBL) and electronic bunker delivery notes (eBDN) to drive productivity in the industry.

MINT for fresh ideas

A statement from MPA said the new MINT fund would support the growth and development of maritime technology start-ups in the city-state.

“MPA will also develop a digital technology marketplace and a start-up playbook,” the MPA said.

“The marketplace will connect maritime and venture capital companies with start-ups … The start-up playbook serves as a comprehensive guide for start-ups to springboard into Singapore tapping on schemes and support programmes relating to talent, capital and research and development resources.”

Also, MPA said it would introduce a new grant scheme called MINT-STARTUP. Certain start-ups can apply through the scheme for grants of up to S$50,000 to pilot their projects. Then, start-ups looking to scale up can also apply for a project grant of up to S$100,000.

Digitalising bunker communications

The MPA said it was launching a digitalisation plan to “raise productivity and instil greater confidence in Singapore’s bunkering industry”.

“Development of digitalBunker@SG by MPA, a secure system for bunker companies to automate data submission for regulatory reporting purposes. When implemented, the system is expected to save more than 1400 man-days annually for the sector,” MPA said.

“MPA will launch a call-for-proposal to partner the industry in projects to digitalise the bunker purchase and delivery process as well as documentations such as bunker delivery note. An end-to-end and highly digitalised workflow across multiple stakeholders including customers and financial institutions will improve efficiency and transparency of the bunkering supply chain.”

Electronic bills of lading

Finally, MPA announced the completion of an eBL trail that demonstrated the interoperability between different digital trade platforms.

The port said Singapore and the Netherlands completed a shipment where an eBL shadowed a live shipment from Qui Nhon, Vietnam to Rotterdam, via transhipment in Singapore.

“The trial showed that there were significant time savings in the BL documentation process from an average of six to 10 days when using a hard copy to less than 24 hours when using an eBL,” MPA said.

“This successful trial also marks one of the first title transfer, across different digital platforms, which was facilitated by TradeTrust, an open-standard digital utility to enable interoperability.”

MPA said it would seek a partner to pilot eBL systems that are based on open standards and that would been the UN Commission on International Trade Law Model Law on Electronic Transferrable Records framework.