Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Heng Swee Keat on April 4 launched the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025 at the Singapore Maritime Week 2022 (April 4 to 8), organized by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), to update strategies to address challenges and seize new opportunities from the COVID-19 pandemic and shifts in global supply chains.
The industry can look forward to increased opportunities in physical and digital connectivity for resilience, technological advancements, and the global efforts for the green transition of the maritime sector.
A key aim of the ITM is to grow the sector’s value-add by S$2 billion, or an average rate of 2-3% annually, between 2020 and 2025.
Going forward, the Sea Transport sector is poised to see major transformation given opportunities arising from global supply chain shifts, digitalization and decarbonization. The Sea Transport ITM 2025 will focus on the following four strategies.
Strategy 1: Ensure relevance and resilience of maritime Singapore as key node in global supply chains
The port of Singapore gained the reputation as a “catch-up port” during the supply chain disruptions and global port congestions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ITM will enhance the port’s connectivity and competitiveness as an essential node in global supply chains and work closely with ecosystem partners such as the port operators, bunker suppliers, ship suppliers, and other marine service providers by:
Future-proofing the port’s capacity and capabilities through enhancing physical and digital connectivity and building a future-ready sustainable port of choice. The ITM will also support port automation and technology adoption, to increase productivity of port operations.
Tuas Port remains on track to be completed by the 2040s. When completed, it will be the world’s largest fully automated container terminal, capable of handling up to 65 million TEU containers. Tuas Port and Jurong Port will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
MPA is also pushing for development, adoption and integration of digital solutions to facilitate seamless data flows through an integrated, efficient and resilient trade supply chain.
Strengthening the International Maritime Center by growing a comprehensive range of maritime services to seize opportunities of the future, and partnering companies on key projects in growth areas such as sustainability and digitalization.
In particular, MPA will work with relevant agencies and institutions to broaden and deepen the market for green financing and carbon awareness and accounting. The Sea Transport sector aims to attract $20 billion of industry total business spending over five years (2020-2024).
Strategy 2: Build a vibrant innovation ecosystem and actively develop new growth areas
Innovation will remain key as Singapore develops future capabilities and solutions built on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, modelling and simulation, data analytics, autonomous systems, robotics, and additive manufacturing. MPA has taken the lead to build a vibrant and supportive maritime innovation ecosystem.
The ITM will support Singapore’s ambition to grow into a Leading MarineTech Hub for companies and start-ups. The government will accelerate the growth of MarineTech clusters by continuing to grow demand drivers, partner start-up multipliers and create an enabling environment bringing together demand drivers, solution providers, and funding.
Innovation platforms such as the PIER71TM (Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71) and the annual Smart Port Challenge (SPC) have catalyzed active partnerships among maritime companies, technology enterprises and research institutions, and attracted investment funds in solutions developed via these platforms.
The Sea Transport sector aims to attract more than $25 million of venture capital investments into PIER71TMstart-ups and grow the number of MarineTech start-ups supported by MPA from the current 30 to 150.
Maritime R&D capabilities will be deepened and R&D translation will be strengthened in key areas, such as Smart Port, Smart Shipping and Green Technologies. An example is the Global Center for Maritime Decarbonization which was established on 1 August 2021 – a large scale public-private partnership between MPA and six founding partners, which started with $120 million funding to pilot and deploy green fuels and technologies.
The Center will strengthen the translation of green technologies for deployment by partnering the industry and working with the research institutes on studies and pilot projects to implement identified decarbonization pathways and create new business opportunities.
Strategy 3: Support maritime SMEs and start-ups to grow and realize their potential as global champions
Given the digital future that the Singapore economy and maritime industry is working towards, it is necessary for companies to be ready. The Sea Transport Industry Digitalization Plan has been expanded to cover all Sea Transport subsectors, while funding support has been extended beyond end-2022 to encourage adoption of pre-approved digital solutions.
MPA will work closely with Enterprise Singapore to leverage their network of overseas centres and offer schemes and grants such as the Maritime Cluster Fund to help SMEsand start-ups build capabilities to venture overseas.
Strategy 4: Develop a future-ready maritime workforce equipped with global skillsets
Talent is required to drive the transformation of the maritime sector to seize the new opportunities for growth in areas such as sustainability and digitalization. The Sea Transport sector will support job role redesign to reskill and upskill current workers in the sector to support a more digitalized, high-tech, and sustainable maritime industry.
Local talent pipelines will also be strengthened by attracting fresh graduates and facilitating mid-career conversions, including sea-to-shore career progressions. MPA will continue efforts to promote the maritime sector as an attractive and dynamic sector for job seekers, while helping Singaporeans take advantage of the many opportunities in the maritime industry.
As the maritime industry restructures, grows and transforms, the Sea Transport sector aims to create another 1,000 good jobs for locals by 2025. New roles requiring skills in data analytics, data science, Internet of Things (IoT) engineering, software engineering, and sustainability management will grow in demand.
In addition, the government will support workers to undergo skill upgrading as existing roles evolve with increasing emphasis on automation, digitalization and sustainability.
Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Heng Swee Keat.