Smart Ports Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development

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Framework conditions for innovation


With increasing global competitive pressures, Western European ports will have to be more efficient or more innovative to remain competitive. Especially in large and complex port environments there are numerous opportunities for efficiency gains. Simultaneously, new advances in data science and IoT technologies are starting to enable more efficient ways of communicating and of integrating entire supply chains. Several port stakeholders are leading the way, yet they are currently insufficiently connected to the new technology stakeholder in data science and IoT. This project will bring together these 2 sectors in a smart ports innovation cluster across 4 port regions, facilitate the translation of innovations from both technologies in city and mobility projects into a connected and multi-modal port environment and stimulate innovation capability building and interaction between data science entrepreneurs in the UK, the Netherlands, France and Belgium to co-create smart ports solutions.

Creation date: 14/02/2017

Bloc onglets

Bloc 1

Overall objective

To develop and support the growth of nascent smart port solutions ecosystems in 4 ports in the 2 Seas region, backed by data science and IoT technologies. Bottom-up initiatives are forming around this common goal, mainly among maritime logistics players, port authorities and large IT providers. The current objective is to also connect to and develop a community of ambitious data science entrepreneurs (mostly SMEs), data science & maritime experts and knowledge centers. A change is also anticipated in the generation of more efficient communication and logistical streams through dedicated data-based solutions.

Bloc 2


• An effective whole network ecosystem to construct a performant connected port environment. • A knowledge and services cluster to support the growth and professionalization of data science entrepreneurs. • +20 identified application areas for specific productivity improvements in the ports' maritime logistics chains. • A shared data platform enabling identification and development of direct productivity improvements • 5 - 10 applications to solve inefficiencies in port communication, logistical and planning flows, reduce ship turnaround times, even improve surrounding road congestion and improve the multimodal mix of transportation options. • As an outcome, the project will also stimulate the efficient use of energy & mobility resources and improve participating ports competitive position.

Bloc 3

Expected result

The concrete expected result is the development and innovation capability building of an innovation cluster on smartports solutions in the 2 Seas area.

Bloc 4

Cross-border added-value

* Pooling data science & IoT expertise across national borders: The challenges facing Western European ports surpass the national level and require innovative best in class solutions from maritime and data science players. Past experiences in Smartcity and Smart mobility projects have learnt that data science expertise is highly specialized, fragmented, concentrated in mostly small high-tech enterprises and hence finding sufficient innovation capacity for sector-specific challenges is often hard. As such, the project will also have business incubators or business networks in each of the 4 participating port regions as partners to recruit sufficient data science capabilities. Complementary data sience, maritime logistics and entrepreneurship development academic expertise; government and user communities of practice will also be brought together to complete the quadruple helix constellation and to provide additional opportunities for transnational good practice sharing, learning and collaboration. * Inter-port connections: The efficiency gains from coordination and integration increase even further if connections are made and data is shared between ports, further increasing work and resources planning predictability. * Strengthening the position of a 2 Seas smart ports cluster: The competition in the emerging IoT market is not going to be one between organizations, but between clusters of organizations competing globally on the basis of their ecosystem. The IoT market is currently not one of large generalists, but of relatively small, focused high-tech players developing novel solutions for very specific contexts. As the main added value of IoT lies in its ability to integrate digital, physical and human resources in specific businesses, competitive advantage will not be about who has the best technology, but about whether as a cluster they are able to provide the most comprehensive solution for an entire value chain. As such, our local IoT champions will have to be able to compete globally. The connected port initiative will allow these emerging players to learn, grow and develop linked solutions.