Inmarsat connectivity study identifies key role for maritime startups

(LONDON) — New and original research into maritime startups, conducted for Inmarsat by the U.K. GovTech venture firm and research house PUBLIC, concludes that more bandwidth connecting ships to shore at lower cost than ever before is empowering a new breed of single-minded innovators to bring the true benefits of digitalization to the shipping and offshore sectors.
The report, "Trade 2.0: How Startups are Driving the Next Generation of Maritime Trade," co-authored by Nick Chubb and Leonardo Zangrando, locates the maritime sector at an inflection point: open to big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, at a time when emissions regulations are pushing it away from the fossil fuels that have framed its business model.
Estimating that the ship technology (shiptech) market is worth $106 billon as a whole today, the report predicts its value rising to $278 billion by 2030. Significantly, in what represents the first market value estimate, it goes on to predict exponential growth for maritime startups. The projection is based on direct input from 100 startups and two years of tracking 240 active startups by the authors’ database of maritime innovation.
The report says that, in 2018, just $4.2 billion of digital spending went to startups and small innovators, with the rest going to corporations that also sell operational technology and hardware. However, as barriers to consume digital services at sea come down, the total spending on digital services from startups and small to medium sized enterprises (SME) will rise to over $111 billion by 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate of 120 percent.
“These are exciting results for our industry, showing that startups and investors should see maritime as offering significant market opportunities for the next 10 years,” said Ronald Spithout, president of Inmarsat Maritime.

The findings also align closely with group investments and Inmarsat’s role as an enabler of maritime digitalization with close to 7,500 VSAT installations completed, said Spithout. In 2019 alone, Inmarsat has launched the shipping industry’s first Internet of Things (IoT) platform (Inmarsat Fleet Data), added partners to its Certified Application Provider program, worked with startups through the Inmarsat Digital Incubation scheme and backed two high profile maritime accelerator programs.
Inmarsat has joined forces with startup programs Rainmaking Trade and Transport Impact (T&TI) and Bluetech Accelerator, which support the potential of the IoT in maritime, ports and the supply chain. Inmarsat seeks to help innovators find a route to market via the high-speed Inmarsat communications infrastructure that connects over 160,000 vessels, ports, road and rail networks worldwide.
The new report indicates that maritime startups raised nearly $200 million in venture capital investment in 2018, just four years after the creation of the world’s first accelerator dedicated to the sector. Last year, 25 programs existed, with 226 startups collectively "graduated" to date.
Also featured are case studies of startup solutions to enhance ship and port operations, and ship management. These include drone-based remote inspection from RIMS BV, approved by nine class societies, and the automated crew travel system from C Teleport.

The report is available to download at

By Professional Mariner Staff