Project budget4 154 162 €
ERDF amount2 457 654 €
Global competitiveness is putting pressures on Western European ports to be more efficient and innovative. Especially in large and complex port environments there are numerous opportunities for efficiency gains in the logistic chain. Simultaneously, new advances in data science and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are enabling more efficient ways to communicate and integrate entire supply chains. High-tech start-ups and SMEs are leading the way in these technological developments. Currently, port environments do not fully take advantage of data science / IoT technologies. Further, high-tech start-ups / SMEs often struggle with professionalization of their technological ideas and business activities. As a result, performance of the Western European ports is hampered. Similarly, the full development potential of high-tech start-ups and SMEs and their subsequent economic contributions are not realised.
This project aims to develop and support the growth of a nascent connected port solutions ecosystem 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 (start-ups and SMEs), data science & maritime experts and knowledge centers. As such, the project aims to translate innovations from both technologies into a connected and multi-modal port environment and generate more efficient communication and logistical streams through dedicated data-based solutions. On top of this, the project aims to reap the full business potential of high-tech start-ups and SMEs, professionalize their business activities and increase their overall (international) performance.
- Mobilizing a network connecting 2 Seas regional data science high-tech start-ups and SMEs, data science and maritime experts and knowledge centres and port stakeholders, to support the Western European ports and port stakeholders who are in need of data science solutions,
- Building a common approach to facilitate the development of data science applications for port logistics problems, supporting the Western European ports and port stakeholders who benefit from improved technology adoption and a joint technology roadmap.
- Build a common approach to develop and improve the technical value delivering, commercialisation capacities and professionalization of smart port entrepreneurs and for the adoption of smart port solutions, to the benefit of (internationalizing) high-tech start-ups and SMEs, and port application users.
Cross border approach
In the light of a number of global trends in maritime transportation, market positions and traffic flows are expected to shift. Changes such as the next-shoring of manufacturing from China to other South-East Asian countries and the upgrading of its industry along the value chain (from mere routine production to value-adding activities) have triggered the Chinese policy makers to redefine their strategy toward globalization and trade. Their investments in the port of Piraeus and central European transport infrastructure have a substantial effect on the 2 Seas ports’ positions in European transport corridors. With the increasing global competitive pressures, Western European ports will have to be more efficient and more innovative to remain competitive. In the light of the increased globalization, only a cross-border approach can result in sufficient efficiency gains resulting in increased competitiveness.
The project is well on its way to achieve the ambition of connecting the port and smart tech communities. Despite some struggles to find the right staff, it has no critical deviations, especially with regard to deliverables that could block the on time achievement of the intended output. In the first year, the project has succeeded mainly in laying strong foundations for a collaborative smart port ecosystem in terms of connecting organizations, people and perspectives. The focus was on building the infrastructure for collaboration (e.g. the ideation platform, designing and organizing the different port and tech-stakeholder co-creation events, shared mental models such as a co-created smart port maturity framework, the basis for a shared vision and roadmap, and the collection of innovation ideas and criteria and procedures to bring them forward. On this basis, the project will focus in the second year on stimulating direct collaboration.
The added value of the cross-border collaboration was present in all work package activities, perhaps most ostensibly in the events. The cross-border and multidisciplinary composition of the project consortium has contributed greatly to the success of the events. The perspective and insights from the port of Antwerp's experiences with smart port solutions opened eyes for the UK stakeholders in the Poole stakeholder engagement event. In the Moerdijk event, a mix of Belgian and Dutch tech entrepreneurs offered insights and solutions that were greatly appreciated by the Dutch port stakeholders, who were found prepared to collaborate on 5 challenges identified during the workshop with the smart port entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the mix of French, UK, Dutch and Belgian coaches on the hackathons in Hasselt and Lille was enriching for the hackathon participants as they implied different and complementary viewpoints, which increased the vetting and quality of the proposed solutions. Overall, the sharing of best practices across the different port areas has also contributed to a joint understanding of the challenges, resource requirements, needs for new standards and regulations,... they share in becoming smarter ports. Perhaps even more importantly, it also contributed to the awareness of which roles they can play in a collaborative 2 Seas ecosystem of smart ports. Form 2020 onwards, our focus will now more be on stiumlating direct cross-border and cross-sector collaborations.