In light of reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the shipping industry, several major maritime corporations are looking to startups for truly innovative solutions, Wärtsilä recently reported.
In fact, industry experts consider that cooperation among established companies and startups has significant potential to create viable solutions for decarbonising the maritime economy.
Namely, Mare Straetmans, Director of Digital Transformation at Van Oord, a maritime contracting firm describes the digitalisation of the industry as the most promising path towards decarbonisation.
“Emissions reduction through emissions monitoring is one of the biggest opportunities. You have digital solutions that do smarter route planning or sails that actually bring wind energy to reduce fuel consumption. There are all kinds of innovative solutions that help optimise it. A single company cannot do that themselves, so partnering with startups is the way to go”…Straetmans told Wärtsilä.
What is more, cooperation between corporations and startups is a good way for newer companies to overcome the normally high barriers to entry to get into the sector.
“New concepts and technologies from the ‘general’ economy, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain or the Internet of Things, find their way into the emerging and traditional sectors of the blue economy. There are several startups that aim to use automation, AI and big data to make shipping more efficient, so there might also be some potential in this area”…Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, added.
On an EU level, startups in the maritime sector are also getting a lot of attention, thanks to the BlueInvest initiative, which organises the annual BlueInvest Day to bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and enablers in the Blue Economy.
Although, it is not always an easy process when corporations and startups try to partner up. Corporations are not always well-equipped to work with starts-ups because it’s a totally different way of working.
On the other hand, startups from their side also struggle because they don’t always know how corporations work.
“Firstly, there are a lot of issues pertaining to certifications, compliance, structures, agreements and so on that are just too much for a new startups to handle. Secondly, decision makers in corporations are risk averse: with startups you can never be sure if you’ll succeed or the product might not be fully finished, and you can’t say to colleagues ‘we have this really cool project but it’s only half-completed’”…explains Straetmans.
People in corporations are not incentivised to take these kinds of risks, they’re incentivised to do what they’ve always done and not make any big mistakes.
However, there are ways startups and corporates can try to address these challenges to innovate and decarbonise the industry.
“Challenges notwithstanding, clearly the potential exists for corporations and startups to bring together their respective areas of expertise to disrupt the traditional maritime industry”... Mikaela Terhi, Senior Manager for Transformation Communications at Wärtsilä, noted.
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