R&D And Technological Innovation In The Maritime Industry

26 September 2007 - Opening Address By Mr Raymond Lim, Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs At The 2nd International Maritime and Port Technology and Development Conference (MTEC), Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Opening Address By Mr Raymond Lim, Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs At The 2nd International Maritime and Port Technology and Development Conference (MTEC) on 26 September 2007, Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. A very good morning to all of you. It is my pleasure to join you this morning for the opening of the 2nd International Maritime and Port Technology and Development Conference or MTEC 2007.

2. Let me extend a very warm welcome to everyone, especially to our friends from abroad. I hope you have enjoyed Maritime Week 2007 so far, and that you will also find some time to take in the unique sights and sounds of Singapore.


3. MTEC is a collaboration between the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Port of Rotterdam to bring together researchers and industry players from around the world, to exchange ideas and explore collaboration in maritime research and technology development. Building on the success of the first conference which was held in Rotterdam in 2005, this year's conference features an expanded range of topics, including port planning and operations, offshore and marine engineering, marine environment and security.

4. Technology is critically important to the maritime industry. There is today zero tolerance for sub-standard shipping. Rigs are expected to operate in ever harsher environments. Without sophisticated IT systems, our megaports will grind to a halt. The drive to be environmentally sustainable is adding new technological demands. To be in the port and marine business today, you have to be also in the technology business. Technology can give a valuable competitive edge to the company that invests in it well.

Maritime R&D Promotion Efforts

5. The important role of technology is well recognised by the Singapore government. At the national level, we have a body called the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, or A*STAR, to promote R&D. In addition, within specific industry sectors, the respective promotional agencies like MPA for the maritime industry, will also pay special attention to the R&D needs of the sector.

6. The MPA has made promoting maritime technology one of its key areas of focus. In 2003, it set up a S$100 million Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) fund to build up a pool of skilled maritime R&D manpower and fund promising maritime technology start-up companies. It has also established a Maritime R&D Advisory Panel, comprising industry leaders and renowned researchers from Singapore and abroad, to advise on how to create an environment that is conducive to maritime R&D.

7. Guided by the recommendations from the Advisory Panel, MPA has adopted a "cluster" approach in promoting R&D in the maritime sector. This approach groups related technology fields into three clusters - Port, Shipping and Offshore and Marine Engineering, or OME - for greater focus and improved collaboration between related fields.

8. The OME cluster was the first to take off. Together with A*STAR, the Economic Development Board and the National University of Singapore, MPA established the Offshore Technology Research Programme earlier this year. The programme sets up a framework for the government to contribute funding, manpower and research facilities towards OME research, focusing on areas such as floating production systems, subsea systems, seafloor and subsurface engineering.

Launch of Infocomm@SeaPort Programme

9. With good progress made in the OME cluster, MPA has turned its attention to Singapore's port and shipping clusters. I am pleased to announce today the launch of a new initiative which will benefit these clusters - the Infocomm@SeaPort programme.

10. The Infocomm@SeaPort programme is a S$12-million joint initiative by MPA and the Infocomm Development Authority, or IDA, to encourage greater development and use of maritime infocomm technologies (ICT). The programme will co-fund ICT projects that can enhance the maritime industry's operational efficiency.

11. The first project under the Infocomm@SeaPort programme is the WIreless-broadband-access for SEaPORT, or WISEPORT, pilot project. Developed in response to feedback from the maritime community, WISEPORT will provide vessels with high bandwidth, low-cost and secure wireless broadband access up to 15 kilometres from Singapore's coastline. When the system is in place by early 2008, Singapore will be the first port in the world to offer wireless broadband connectivity throughout its waters.

12. WISEPORT will benefit ships, harbour craft, and other port users. They will be able to submit documentation, request for bunkering and ship chandling services and access other electronic services more efficiently and at lower cost. It will also enable the development of new services, such as the updating of shipboard software and electronic navigational charts using wireless communications.

13. MPA and IDA are currently in the process of selecting a service provider to set up the hardware for the WISEPORT service. Following a one-year pilot trial, full commercial deployment of the wireless broadband service will take place in early 2009. MPA and IDA will also be issuing a Call-For-Collaborations for the development of new content and software applications for WISEPORT. I look forward to the participation of the maritime and ICT communities in the pilot trial and content development for WISEPORT.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

14. The OME and Infocomm@SeaPort programmes I have mentioned are just 2 examples of MPA’s efforts to promote R&D and technological innovation. Moving forward, MPA will continue to introduce new initiatives and new partnerships to drive R&D and innovation for our port, shipping and OME sectors.

15. The partnership of industry in these initiatives is critical. I would like to thank our industry partners for their support, which has been instrumental in catalysing the growth of maritime R&D in Singapore. Companies such as Keppel Offshore and Marine, Lloyd’s Register, Neptune Orient Lines and the American Bureau of Shipping, to name just a few, have contributed by setting up professorships, fellowships and research centres in Singapore. I am heartened that so many companies recognise the value of supporting innovation and R&D activity in Singapore. Through this Conference I am confident that you will hear many ideas and exciting possibilities that will give you more reason to put technology at the centre of your business.

16. On this note, it is my pleasure to declare the Second MTEC Conference open. I wish all of you a fruitful Conference. 

17. Thank you.

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