Why Singapore Is the Best Place For Reimagining the Maritime Industry Singapore's entrenched position as a leading global port, achieved through pioneering new and improved solutions and services for the industry over the years, motivates regulatory authorities to sustain this edge through a range of initiatives to encourage and explore new ideas

By Mark Lim

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Ranked the world's most competitive economy by World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report in October 2019, Singapore appeals for its open economy, strong labour-employer relations, diverse workforce, robust intellectual property protection and the stability of the government with its responsiveness to change. There is concerted governmental and agency level commitment to industry transformation through thoughtfully seizing and supporting digitalisation and entrepreneurship opportunities to grow as a global innovation hub.

Singapore's entrenched position as a leading global port, achieved through pioneering new and improved solutions and services for the industry over the years, motivates regulatory authorities to sustain this edge through a range of initiatives to encourage and explore new ideas.

One such example is PIER71 – Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71, a collaboration between Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of one of the leading universities in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS). This initiative is part of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore's broader innovation strategy under the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, launched in January 2018, to catalyse the development of the maritime innovation ecosystem in Singapore through maritime tech start-ups and enterprises. PIER71 bridges the otherwise less visible and difficult-to-access opportunities within the maritime corporates, with the growing start-up community in Singapore so that more can help reimagine technology for the port and maritime industry.

Efforts are also on-going by the local institutes of higher learning to groom more tech talent in response to many smart-nation initiatives; and global tech organisations like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn have set up offices in Singapore, bringing with them expertise and tech professionals with strong linkages to other entrepreneurial hotspots in the world. There has been steady growth in the investor community and growing investor familiarity and interest in wider range of industries, including maritime. Singapore's appeal as a start-up hub has been acknowledged in reports such as Startup Genome's Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2019.

In addition to these, Singapore being one of the world's largest transhipment hub port and a vibrant International maritime centre, with 5,000 maritime establishments and a manpower of 170,000, provides a sea of opportunities for the maritime start-ups to easily test their new technologies and innovations and scale to the region and beyond. The reasons for Singapore being the best place for reimagining the maritime industry are compelling, and the time to ride these waves of change is right here, right now.

Mark Lim

Programme Director, PIER71

Dr Mark Lim is the Programme Director for PIER71. He joined NUS Enterprise in April 2018. Lim graduated from Sheffield University, UK, with first class honors in Mechanical Engineering, and a PhD in Control Engineering. He has a few publications and a patent in mobile internet technology.

He started his career with Foxboro Far East Pte Ltd as an industrial trainer. He then joined Fisher Rosemount as Sales and Application Engineer. After that, he was with the education sector for 12 years. During this period, he was with Nanyang Polytechnic and his last held appointment was Section Head for Mobile Internet. He then joined ITE as Director, School of Engineering.

Thereafter he was with A*STAR for 10 years. During this period, he was Head of Engineering Cluster at SERC; Director (Enterprise and Innovation) at IMRE; and was seconded to Kibing (S’pore) Investment Holding as CTO. He was instrumental in charting the R&D plans for marine and offshore, aerospace and high value manufacturing for RIE2015. 

Dr Mark Lim held numerous external positions. He was a member of the ISO TC229 committee for nanotechnology, technical committee for crafting the Work Skill Qualification for Precision Engineering, and technical committee of the Chemical Process Training Centre.

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