The Smart Ports Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development (SPEED) project aims to improve ports in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK by using new advances in technology and data science.
The objective is to develop a community of ambitious data science experts and entrepreneurs, maritime experts, and knowledge centres which can support growth of new port ecosystems.
The project is part of the Interreg 2 Seas programme. SPEED is led by the Antwerp Management School, Belgium, and funded predominantly by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Poole Harbour Commissioners is a project partner, working alongside other ports, both in the UK and mainland Europe. The PHC SPEED project is coordinated by Steve Wisdom, PHC’s Chief Financial Officer.
Global competitiveness is putting pressure on Western European ports to be more efficient and innovative. Recent estimations (AMS OBOR study, 2017) revealed that 20% of North-Western European maritime trade flows are under risk of substitution by a northbound land route starting from a new European hub in Piraeus and nearby Mediterranean ports, following substantial infrastructure investments by Chinese shippers and trade investors. By upgrading smaller ports and road infrastructure in the Balkans, cost-effectiveness ratios shift, and the pressure is on 2 Seas ports to become more efficient and innovative.
This project research shows that there are numerous opportunities, especially in large and complex port environments, for efficiency gains in the logistic chain by predicting and optimising information flows in real time. Already, major ports in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Calais are initiating custom-built shared data platforms to make these improvements.
The Internet of Things (IoT) concept describes a connectivity of computing devices and mechanical and digital machines which can transfer data without human interaction. SPEED believes new advances in data science and IoT technologies can enable more efficient ways to integrate entire port supply chains.
High-tech start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are leading the way in data science and IoT technological developments for smart-ports. SPEED’s goal is to support and connect these entrepreneurs who often struggle with professionalisation of their technological innovations. SPEED strives for ports to take full advantage of data science and IoT technologies, while endeavouring for the business success of the project’s SME collaborators.
The first project ambition is to empower the 2 Seas smart-port community to become a world leading innovation hub for the development of smart-ports. Secondly, SPEED intends to boost the operational excellence and technological sophistication of 2 Seas port users. Finally, SPEED aims to stimulate product development and adoption to ultimately boost economic development in partaking regions.
PHC’s contribution is as an active participant in the exchange of ideas between ports and other stakeholders, creating an expanding living laboratory to test new innovations. Ideas will be analysed and tested in a simulation environment prior to their implementation in toolkits for future smart-port innovation ecosystems.