Smart Ports Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën


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Smart Ports Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development

Priority Axis

Technological and Social Innovation

Specific objective

Framework Conditions for Innovation

Lead partner

Antwerp Management School





Project budget

4 149 588

ERDF amount

2 481 461

ERDF rate



    Common challenge

    Global competitiveness is putting pressure on Western European ports to be more efficient and innovative. Recent estimations show that more than 20% of North-Western European maritime trade flows are under risk of substitution by the Chinese “One Belt One Road” initiative. Its infrastructure investments through a Northbound land route are starting from Piraeus and near Mediterranean ports. With upgrading smaller ports and road infrastructure in the Balkans, cost-effectiveness ratios will shift, and pressure will be on 2 Seas ports to become more efficient and innovative. SPEED project tackled this challenge as large and complex port environment present 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. At that time, port environments did not fully take advantage of data science and IoT technologies. Further, high-tech start-ups and SMEs often struggled with professionalisation of their technological ideas and business activities. As a result, performance of the Western European ports was hampered. Similarly, the full development potential of high-tech start-ups and SMEs and their subsequent economic contributions was not realised.

    Main Achievements

    SPEED has provided greater clarity on the value of data sharing. While data sharing is one of the most common obstacles to working with smart ports, SPEED has helped change the conversation in many of the port communities that have engaged with the project. Indeed, the project has led to greater empathy amongst the port community towards each member's needs and ambitions for innovation and a common understanding of where innovation and collaboration is most needed. 
    Port communities and stakeholders through SPEED have realised how starting from the daily challenges of port stakeholders has a much greater impact on their innovation efforts and their willingness to collaborate. The fact that future initiatives, technological and otherwise, can focus on increasing and capturing value can be an added benefit for all. Another point of pride is the highly positive qualitative feedback of users and smart port community members on the innovation ecosystem assets created by the SPEED project. Additionally, the project is proud to have been nominated as a top 3 contender worldwide for the IAPH World Sustainability Program Awards in the category of Resilient Digital infrastructure. 
    Furthermore, having been able to get thought leaders from the top European ports as speakers on their Manifesto event is something for which the Partnership has received international appreciation. There is a clear momentum arising in Europe towards considering ports as beacons for paradigm shifting innovation, the energy and digital transitions. Finally, partners are satisfied to have contributed to an increased awareness within and around the industry for more sustainable, more resilient and more innovative operations.


    “A future Smart Port System will be built by open minds, collaboration and joint forces. That’s why Port of Antwerp is a proud partner of the SPEED project. Our participation to this project was in line with our new mission ‘A home port vital for a sustainable future’, which means that we understand the challenges our societies face as a whole in terms of adaptation to new technologies, geopolitical changes, sustainable growth demand, climate change adaptation and energy transition, and that as a Port Authority we are able to create a catalyst towards a sustainable future. During the implementation of this project, we translated this into 3 strategic focus areas where the transition is the most important one in defining new paths moving forward in how we reposition ourselves as a port, because transition deals with circular economy, energy transition and digitalisation.”

    Erwin Verstraelen
    Chief Digital and Innovation Officer
    Port of Antwerp



    Universiteit Antwerpen

    Université de Lille

    Stichting Katholieke Universiteit Brabant

    WSX Enterprise

    University of Bournemouth

    Portsmouth City Council

    CITC-EuraRFID Centre d'innovations des technologies sans contact

    Haven van Moerdijk

    Poole Harbours Commissioners

    Portland Port Limited

    BCP Council


    PortXL International B.V.

    Port of Antwerp - Bruges


    Output title
    URL / Download


    Thema: Support to innovationPorts

    Common smart port application development project management tool with best practice guidelines throughout the innovation process

    Type: e-infrastructure/online tool
    Target: SMEs /enterprises


    Thema: Support to innovationPorts

    Joint technical value delivery toolkit to ensure actual and effective implementation and user adoption of the developed integrated solutions

    Type: Method/service
    Target: SMEs /enterprises


    Thema: Support to innovationPorts

    Two joint tool kits to diagnose and improve value creation, value delivery and personality development of Smart Port App entrepreneurs

    Type: Method/service
    Target: SMEs /enterprises


    Thema: Support to innovationPorts

    Common innovation ecosystem vision & roadmap toward global leadership in market niches with smart ports solutions for the 2 Seas port area

    Type: Strategy/action plan
    Target: Maritime industry and logistics sector


    Thema: Support to innovationPorts

    Cross-border collaborative innovation network of data science and port logistics players focused on the development of smart port applications

    Type: Network
    Target: Maritime industry and logistics sector