Inmarsat landmark study identifies critical role for maritime startups

New study commissioned by the Inmarsat Research Programme and conducted by PUBLIC shows the key role startups and connectivity will play in driving maritime industries along the road to digitalisation.

New study commissioned by the Inmarsat Research Programme and conducted by PUBLIC shows the key role startups and connectivity will play in driving maritime industries along the road to digitalisation.

10th September, 2019: New and original research into maritime startups conducted for Inmarsat by UK GovTech venture firm and research house, PUBLIC, concludes 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 startups. The projection is based on direct input from 100 startups and two years of tracking 240 active startups by the authors’ database of maritime innovation.

The report says that, in 2018, just US$4.2bn (£3.4bn) of digital spending went to startups 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 startups and small to medium sized enterprises (SME) will rise to over $111bn by 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate of 120%.

Welcoming the research, Ronald Spithout, President Inmarsat Maritime says: “These are exciting results for our industry, showing that startups and investors should see maritime as offering significant market opportunities for the next ten years.” The findings also align closely with group investments and Inmarsat’s role as an enabler of maritime digitalisation with close to 7,500 VSAT installations completed, says Spithout. In 2019 alone, Inmarsat has launched the shipping industry’s first Internet of Things (IoT) platform (Inmarsat Fleet Data), added partners to its Certified Application Provider programme, worked with startups through the Inmarsat Digital Incubation scheme and backed two high profile maritime accelerator programmes.

Inmarsat has joined forces with startup 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 startups 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 startups collectively ‘graduated’ to date.

Also featured are case studies of startup 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 startups, corporate suppliers and ship operators to collaborate,” says 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

Port of Southampton and Government launch UK first Port Economic Partnership

The Department for Transport (DfT), in partnership with ABP’s Port of Southampton, today launches the UK’s first Port Economic Partnership (PEP), an innovative initiative to create stronger links between ports and Government, to maximise long-term trade and economic growth. The Partnership will be launched at an event at London International Shipping Week, on board the NLV Pharos lightship.

As part of its strategy, ‘Maritime 2050 – Navigating the Future’, launched in January 2019, the Government outlined the creation of Port Economic Partnerships as one way of creating a strong business environment for ports to thrive, in turn, boosting trade and driving the national economy.

Areas that the Partnership will focus on include leveraging the maximum benefit from public and private sector investment and ensuring that planning processes are as efficient as possible.  It is anticipated that this will better facilitate ports’ investment in new freight-handling facilities and other infrastructure needed to grow trading volumes and maintain the UK’s position as a leading maritime nation.

The Partnership will focus on ensuring that public and private sector organisations at local, regional and national levels, work together to enable improved links with our global trading partners, ready for a post-Brexit world where the resilience of our trading hubs is more critical than ever before.

The UK’s first PEP will see the Port of Southampton, the UK’s number one export port and Europe’s leading cruise turnaround destination, work closely with DfT to trial the concept

The Maritime minister, Nusrat Ghani, said:

“I am delighted to announce the first Port Economic Partnership with the Port of Southampton.  This fantastic endeavour will be key to supporting the ambitions of Government, helping to cement the UK as a leading maritime nation. Not only this, but this project will also allow the Port of Southampton to drive sector growth, enhance its offer to customers and serve its local community.”

Alastair Welch, ABP’s Regional Director for Southampton, said: “We are proud and excited to be joining the Government in launching the UK’s first Port Economic Partnership.  It’s great to see the Government put maritime at the heart of the nation’s economic future. This is another fantastic initiative capable of turbo-charging trade and boosting the nation’s exports.

“ABP looks forward to working collaboratively with Government to deliver the benefits which the Partnership will bring to support the Port of Southampton’s future growth. Ultimately, this important step will safeguard our position as the UK’s number one export port and a leading gateway for international trade, making significant contributions to jobs and the UK economy, both regionally and nationally.”

– Ends –

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Notes to editors:

About ABP Southampton​

  • UK’s number one port for exports handling £40 billion of UK exports every year
  • Contributes £2.5 billion to the UK economy every year
  • Supports 45,600 jobs nationally
  • UK’s number one cruise port welcoming 2 million passengers each year
  • Handles on average 14 million tonnes of commodities each year
Video content links:
  Introduction to ABP Southampton


About ABP (

ABP is the UK’s leading ports operator with 21 ports and other transport related businesses creating a unique national network capable of handling a vast array of cargo.

The company contributes £7.5 billion to the UK economy every year and supports 119,000 jobs. Our current investment programme promises to further increase our contribution to regional economies around the UK.


  • Handles over 1.5 million vehicles every year
  • Generates around one quarter of the UK’s rail freight
  • Has 1.4 million square metres of covered storage
  • Has 1,000 hectares of open storage
  • Handles around 90 million tonnes of cargo each year
  • Owns 5,000 hectares of port estate
  • Has 87km of quay

Our five-year investment programme across the group is worth £1 billion. Our investment is designed to respond to the needs of our customers whose business relies on our ports for access to international and, in some cases, domestic markets.

Video content links:
  Introduction to ABP
  ABP Vimeo Channel

ABS Brings Together Industry Leaders to Discuss the Journey to 2050

London International Shipping Week Event Looks Beyond Today’s State-of-the-Art to Meet Decarbonization Challenges 

(LONDON) Shipping industry leaders debated the industry’s decarbonization challenge at a high-profile ABS panel at London International Shipping Week today.

CEO of JP Morgan Global Transport Andrian Dacy; Global Head of Wet Freight at Trafigura Rasmus Bach Nielsen and CTM CEO John Radziwill joined ABS Chairman, President and CEOChristopher J. Wiernicki for a discussion on the Journey to 2050: Beyond State-of-the-Art, moderated by TradeWinds Editor-in-Chief Julian Bray.

Welcoming guests to the exclusive event, UK Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “The UK maritime sector has a lot to be proud of in developing cleaner, smarter ways of working and investing in technology that will lead to greater efficiencies tomorrow. This includes the development of new maritime technologies that will help us meet our targets to drive emissions to zero. We need tangible action on clean technologies and fuels so we can thrive in a changing world, focusing on innovation, something which ABS has been at the forefront of.” said the Minister.

The panel offered on insights on how new technology can make shipping more efficient, new and existing alternative fuels, carbon emission reduction strategies, sources of finance in a decarbonizing economy and the impact of shipyard consolidation on new vessel designs.

“Today, the maritime industry is at the start of a daring voyage of disruptive change. Daring because its ultimate goals are both clearly stated and clearly unattainable, for now. We know where we want to go and have only the tools to begin the journey, but our own history tells us that, if we remain committed, we will eventually break the barriers that separate our vision from reality,” said Wiernicki.

Julian Bray opened the discussion saying, “How do you decarbonize an industry built on carbon and which carries so much carbon? That illustrates the scale of the challenge. We have to remember that the leading edge of efficient ships are a fraction of the fleet. There is a great deal of interest but so far action and investment have been limited to a few industry leaders. What needs to become clearer is where the opportunities for change will emerge and how the market will support them.”

Rasmus Bach Nielsen said: “The last 10 years have shown that shipping is a hard market in which to push the adoption of technology and take on the associated costs, because there has been so little money available. Shipyard consolidation could not have come at a better time; it will help to force through technology challenges; we need yards to be as strong as possible. Consolidation in shipbuilding is positive and needed for industry to be successful on the journey of the next 10 years.”

Andrian Dacy said: “There is not one institutional investor in the west that is not thinking about the ESG (Environmental Social Governance) Agenda and the ESG status of their investments. The reality is that the largest pools of capital have made sustainability a priority. These issues may not trickle into your business straight away but capital moves the market and CIOs or finance executives are all thinking that way. It’s part of the broader conversation in the industry.”

John Radziwill said: “Would I be willing to give away inefficiency in the market in the cause of decarbonisation? 100% yes. If port congestion is less going forward then so be it. Efficiency and profitability go together and digital technology can help in a major way, but ordering new ships that are a little more efficient is not the solution. We need to use the existing fleet better, to play the hand we are dealt. I think we can lower costs increase safety and make money.”

Wiernicki added: “2050 is obviously a long way off and it will be another generation of leaders making the practical decisions in that respect. But it would be a mistake to put the question in a box to be opened by the next generation. It must be on the radar today because, although current technologies cannot get us there, it falls to the present generation to make a commitment to develop and mature these solutions so that the next generation can implement them.”

 Government backs cutting-edge tech to drive down shipping emissions

£2.3m grant to support the development of trailblazing maritime technology.

Government to work with the investment community to help finance zero-emission shipping projects.

Latest step in Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Plan.

Britain is set to become a global hub for low-carbon maritime technology, thanks to new government funding.

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani has today (Tuesday 10 September) committed a further £1m to fund new shipping technology projects through MarRI-UK, a consortium of leading maritime organisations.

MarRI-UK has already allocated £1m to support early stage clean maritime projects. Today Government is announcing a further £1m for technology and innovation projects, boosting the wealth of maritime knowledge that exists in the UK to build an industry fit for the future.

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said:

“I am delighted to announce this fantastic funding for pioneering research, bringing the UK ever closer to zero emission shipping.

“The UK continues to lead the way on the global stage, playing a key role in reaching an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% in 2050.

“This latest investment will help ensure our great maritime nation remains sustainable years into the future.”

The Government is also announcing a push to bring financiers and budding entrepreneurs together to help innovation flourish in the sector.

The new Green Finance for Maritime conference in Summer 2020 will bring together representatives from the government, financial services and technology sector to build relationships and broker new deals.

This will help cement the UK’s position as a global hub for the provision of green finance and move the UK even further towards zero-emission shipping.

Sarah Kenny, Vice Chair of Maritime UK said:

“The UK is home to world leading maritime technology, particularly in automation. We want to be leaders in the key areas of decarbonisation and digitisation too.

“MarRI-UK is the first collaborative body in the sector that brings together expertise from all parts of the sector. We back decarbonisation by 2050 and by working collaboratively with government, we will achieve this.

“Already across Britain we’re seeing promising progress: from hybrid ferries to hydrogen fuel, the sector is tackling the challenge head on.”

The UK has already taken a proactive role in driving this move in UK waters and is seen globally as a role model in zero-emission shipping.

Existing projects in this area include:

  • Hybrid ferries being used between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight and in Scotland;
  • Shore-side electricity at Portsmouth, Fraserburgh and Brodick ports driving down emissions from running engines; and
  • A project in Orkney exploring how to directly inject hydrogen into the fuel supply of ferries, reducing Co2 emissions.

Smart shipping and clean maritime, are key strands of the government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, a long term look at the opportunities for the sector for the next 30 years.

These new initiatives are helping the Government deliver on its bold Clean Maritime Plan, published earlier this year to set out how it intends to clean up the sector and move to zero -emission shipping.

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New ship to boost safe navigation in UK seas

  • Government confirms it will buy new state-of-the-art ship for General Lighthouse Authority Trinity House.
  • Cutting-edge vessel will replace the ageing THV Patricia and will use new tech to improve safety at sea.
  • New ship announced as part of London International Shipping Week, which is promoting the UK as a leading maritime trading nation.

Travelling in UK waters will be safer than ever thanks to a new ship bought by the Department for Transport, to help other boats navigate our seas safely and smoothly.

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani has today (Monday, September 9) marked the start of London International Shipping Week by announcing a new ship for the General Lighthouse Authority, which is responsible for providing more than 600 aids to navigation around UK waters, including ships, lighthouses and buoys, and helping thousands of mariners every year.

The vessel – which is yet to be named – will provide critical navigation aids to even more ships in some of the most dangerous waters in the world, guiding them into safe channels away from wrecks, thanks to an upgrade in the latest technology.

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani, said:

“Our maritime sector is crucial to UK trade with 95 per cent of our imports and exports transported by sea.

“With our waters becoming busier all the time, dealing with incidents quickly and efficiently is more important than ever.

“This new ship will support the General Lighthouse Authority to help future-proof their fleet and continue to support maritime safety and trade for generations to come.”

This significant investment by the UK Government will see a state-of-the-art ship built to replace the ageing THV Patricia – which has been in service since 1982.


The vessel will harness technological and environmental innovations to ensure the safe passage of ships, safeguarding future maritime trade and bolstering the UK’s maritime capability.


An invitation to tender has now been launched for the shipbuilding industry to further develop plans for the new vessel, which will join Trinity’s existing fleet.


Captain Ian McNaught, Trinity House Executive Chairman said:


“We are pleased to hear that the Maritime Minister is content for us to move the Vessel Replacement Project closer towards the design and build phase.


“While we must ensure that value for money is central to the design, we will also be looking for new, tested and robust technologies in the vessel design; these technologies will need to offer high performance and resilience and also reduce our environmental impact.”


This investment is the latest move by the Government to future-proof the UK’s maritime sector as the gateway to the world, supporting innovation and ensuring competition thrives once the UK leaves the EU on October 31.


Earlier this year the Department for Transport also launched its Maritime 2050 Strategy, which sets out an ambition for the UK to become a world leader in the move to clean maritime, reducing the environmental impacts of shipping and supporting UK businesses to grow.


This also follows the existing National Ship Building Strategy, which outlines an ambition to transform the procurement of naval ships, grow the Royal Navy fleet by the 2030s, export British ships overseas, and boost innovation, skills, jobs, and productivity across the UK.


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