|It was my distinct honor yesterday to attend a Maritime Innovation Summit hosted in Boston by SHIPPINGInsight Partner, SeaAhead. This was a gathering in an area they term the “Innovation Cluster” and, judging from the range of technologies and innovations discussed, they may well be giving Silicon Valley a run for its money!! It was also terrific to see the range of maritime interests in attendance: Shell, Marsoft, Moran Shipping, SeaRiver Maritime, ConocoPhillips and Polar Tankers, McAllister Towing, Wartsila, Liberian Registry, Phoenix Bulk and more! I also saw many of our SHARK TANK participants!
The agenda was a mix of presentations on the pathways technology companies were following to bring their products to the marine industry, along with incubators illuminating their structure and funding opportunities. In addition, specific topics were addressed (digitalization, cybersecurity, cleantech and coastal resiliency, and Smart tech—autonomy, robotics and sensing) which were followed by group roundtables about these areas. The day ended with an open forum where emerging technologies made a 5-minute pitch on their products (future SHIPPINGInsight SHARK TANK “chum”???).
Much like SHIPPINGInsight, this was a terrific opportunity for the marine community to gather and discuss what is needed to face the future, and how technology can support that. One presenter actually posed the question: “Why do we care about innovation?” along with a photo of a Barnes & Noble store (perhaps the last remaining Blockbuster store in Oregon would have been more apt?).
While the STRUCTURE of ships will not significantly change (except to meet evolving EEDI expectations), the BUSINESS of shipping needs to. We need to become more efficient, better connect ship and shore, provide professionals with the best possible tools to do their craft (without overwhelming them with too much information) and increase safety and mariner welfare.
A tall order? You betcha!!! But we can do it!!!