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MPA and NUS Enterprise: Twelve Start-ups from PIER71’s Smart Port Challenge awarded S$600,000 to bring innovative solutions to maritime market

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MPA and NUS Enterprise: Twelve Start-ups from PIER71’s Smart Port Challenge awarded S$600,000 to bring innovative solutions to maritime market. Image: MPA/ A virtual environment based on a digital twin of a crude oil tanker developed by Kanda to simulate a Lock Out Tag Out safety procedure
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The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), announced that 12 start-ups from Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71 (PIER71)’s Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2019 have each been awarded S$50,000 in grant funding from MPA. The funding will enable the start-ups to conduct prototype development and test-bed their near market-ready solutions.

Over the next 12 months, the start-ups will be working on pilot projects in collaboration with PIER71’s maritime corporate partners, who will provide subject matter expertise, test data, as well as a platform to test-bed their solutions. Their grant applications were assessed based on the viability of their solutions in addressing maritime challenges. Focusing on technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality (V/AR), blockchain, robotics and wearables, these start-ups are:
  • ABEJA
  • ASA Development
  • C-LOG
  • Cerekon
  • Dravam
  • Kanda
  • KoiReader Technologies
  • Marified
  • Megapixel
  • Newton Services Research (local entity of Delvify)
  • Performance Rotors
  • Tropical Renewable Energy Engineering (TREE)

Upon the successful completion of the projects, the maritime corporates will be adopting the final products/solutions. Mr Ron Fong, Regional IT Manager of Teekay said, “The use of Kanda’s VR solution to simulate a safety procedure known as Lock Out Tag Out, will allow our crew to undergo training in a virtual tanker which is essentially a digital twin of the one they work on, without endangering their lives or damaging any equipment. We’re also working with Cerekon to explore a remote support system, that will enable our onboard engineers to use voice-activated head-mounted wearables to safely and more efficiently conduct equipment maintenance.”

Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA, said, “Although the global COVID-19 situation has caused widespread disruption, we push ahead with innovation in the maritime sector. Singapore continues to support the use of emerging technologies to transform the maritime industry, uplift the way companies do their business and strengthen our resilience as a maritime nation. These grants represent MPA’s commitment to supporting innovation as part of Singapore’s Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, and we are heartened by the results we’ve seen to date from previous grant recipients.”

Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), said, “Start-ups addressing innovation opportunities created through Smart Port Challenge are bringing solutions to real problems faced by the maritime industry. By leveraging the extensive pool of talent from the university, the global network of resources from NUS Enterprise, as well as industry partnerships through MPA, PIER71 is playing a pivotal role in bridging the gap between innovation and market needs.”

Eight out of 13 of the previous grant recipients from Smart Port Challenge 2018 have completed their pilot projects, with the remaining five nearing completion. Ship Supplies Direct, a start-up focusing on improving marine logistics and supply chain, has reported up to 30% reduction in delivery costs and up to three hours less waiting time per delivery through their pilot project with PSA International. Aeras Medical, a start-up with experience in the healthcare industry, also completed a three-month onboard trial with OMC Shipping. Their vital signs monitoring solution was used to monitor and manage crew health remotely, and achieved high adherence rate among the crew.

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India and US in negotiations to make a trade deal

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India and US in negotiations to make a trade deal. Image: Pixabay
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India and the US are in negotiations to make a trade agreement. The  Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Piyush Goyal has invited the United States commercial enterprises to take the bilateral exchange to new heights. Addressing the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) via a digital convention, ShriGoyal stated that the 2 democracies percentage deep dedication with each other, on the Government, Business and those to people to people levels.

Both nations trust in free and fair trade and the United States is India’s biggest buying and selling partner. He said that going beyond trade, in this interconnected world, the two nations can be the resilient trusted partners in the global value chain.

He further indicated to the members of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum about the initiatives taken by the government to facilitate industry and investments. He said that a GIS-enabled land bank has been launched on pilot basis, with six states on board, which will help the investors in identifying the land and location. 

India is ready to sign an initial limited trade package, and it is upto the US to move ahead, he said. 

The US is eager for a deal in advance of its presidential elections in November and had indicated that a preliminary deal ought to encompass recuperation of the GSP advantages to India and marketplace entry for each other’s agricultural products. India has demanded exemption from excessive obligations imposed on steel , aluminium products and its farm products, even as the United States is looking to have a  market entry  for its farm production, merchandise and clinical devices. 

He said, the trade deal has challenges but also a number of opportunities. This could be a foundational exchange deal on the way to deepen our engagement going forward.

 

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India ranks first in number of organic farmers and Sikkim becomes first state in the world to become fully organic

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India ranks first in number of organic farmers and Sikkim becomes first state in the world to become fully organic. Image: Pixabay
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As the global pandemic situation continues the demand for access to good quality food is on the rise and it’s a high priority to India. In a very recent official statement from the government, India ranks first within the number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming. Also Sikkim became the first state in the world to become fully organic and other states such as Tripura and Uttarakhand have similar goals.

With the aim of aiding farmers to adopt organic farming and improve remunerations, government had introduced two dedicated programs specifically Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD) and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) were launched in 2015 to encourage organic farming. 

The major organic exports from India are flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice and pulses, which were instrumental in driving an rise of nearly 50% in organic exports in 2018-19, touching Rs 5151 crore. 

Modest commencement of exports from Assam, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland to UK, USA, Swaziland and Italy have proved the potential by increasing volumes and expanding to new destinations because the demand for health foods increases.

Both Mission Organic Value Chain Development and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana are promoting certification under  Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) respectively targeting local and international markets. 

Before making a purchase a consumer should look for the logos of FSSAI, Jaivik Bharat / PGS Organic India on the produce to ascertain the organic authenticity of the product. This can be a very important element of an organic produce. 

Presently, the commodities with highest potential include ginger, turmeric, black rice, spices, nutri cereals, pineapples, medicinal plants, buckwheat, bamboo shoots, etc. Supplies of organic produce has started from the north eastern region including for Mother Dairy from Meghalaya, Revanta Foods and Big Basket from Manipur. 

The organic e-commerce platform www.jaivikkheti.in is being strengthened for directly linking farmers with retail as well as bulk buyers. Infusion of digital technology in a much bigger way has been a major takeaway during the pandemic period.

Indian organic farmers will soon be reinforcing the top place in the global agriculture trade. 

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Retail imports to see lowest annual total in four years

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Retail imports to see lowest annual total in four years. Image: Pixabay
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Imports at major U.S. retail container ports during 2020 are expected to see their lowest total in four years as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. economy continues, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“The economy is recovering but retailers are being careful not to import more than they can sell,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Shelves will be stocked, but this is not the year to be left with warehouses full of unsold merchandise. The more Congress does to put spending money in consumers’ pockets and provide businesses with liquidity, the sooner we can get back to normal.”

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.61 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in June, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 4.9 percent from May but down 10.5 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

July was estimated at 1.76 million TEU, down 10.2 percent year-over-year. August is forecast at 1.81 million TEU, down 7.3 percent; September at 1.69 million TEU, down 9.5 percent; October also at 1.69 million TEU, down 10.4 percent; November at 1.59 million TEU, down 5.8 percent, and December at 1.56 million TEU, down 9.6 percent.

Those numbers would bring 2020 to a total of 19.6 million TEU, a drop of 9.4 percent from last year and the lowest annual total since 19.1 million TEU in 2016. The first half of 2020 totaled 9.5 million TEU, down 10.1 percent from last year.

August is expected to be the busiest month of the July-October “peak season” when retailers rush to bring in merchandise for the winter holidays. But with retailers ordering less merchandise, the month’s total would be the lowest peak for the season since 1.73 million TEU in 2016 and falls far short of the 1.96 million TEU peak in 2019. Peak season usually includes the busiest month of the entire year, but this year that was likely January’s 1.82 million TEU.

“This year, peak season seems to have been thrown off by the coronavirus pandemic along with just about everything else we consider normal,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “We’ve probably already had our busiest month. And with the pandemic taking a hit on the economy ever since then, peak season is likely to be a disappointment by comparison.”

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