New innovation challenge launched to improve crew welfare


Inmarsat, Shell Shipping and Thetius have jointly launched a new crew welfare open innovation challenge for start-ups and SMEs to identify technologies that can improve overall crew safety, health and wellbeing at sea.

The ‘Open Innovation Challenge’ is especially timely when the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has exposed the welfare of seafarers to global scrutiny.

The six-week challenge for start-ups and SMEs will fund and test application that can help improve the safety of deck operations, minimise fatigue onboard, reduce administration onboard and improve overall crew welfare.

“We are seeking applications for solutions from start-ups and SMEs who want to conduct a proof of concept onboard a vessel supported by Shell Shipping and Maritime and Inmarsat,” said Nick Chubb, managing director of Thetius, a maritime digital consultancy firm which will run the challenge.

“Start-ups and solution providers who apply to the Open Innovation Challenge will be required to submit a pitch that details their proposed solution and a proof of concept onboard a Shell vessel,” Chubb said.

The successful solutions will be invited to pitch their idea to a decision-making jury at the end of September. The majority of the jury will be made up of serving seafarers, with representatives from Inmarsat, Shell Shipping and Maritime and the welfare sector also taking part.

The team behind the chosen idea will be awarded a GBP10,000 ($13,000) cash grant to test their idea by implementing a proof of concept onboard a vessel and the winning start-up will also receive support from Shell Shipping and Maritime, Thetius and Inmarsat.

Last month, Inmarsat and Thetius launched a new report ‘Welfare 2.0: How can the next generation of technology enable better crew safety, health and wellbeing at sea?”, which highlighted the current lack of funding for crew welfare technology that has hindered its development so far.

“Our report last month shone a light on the need for far greater support and investment in crew welfare technology,” said Ronald Spithout, president of Inmarsat Maritime. “This collaboration and challenge are designed to help nurture and develop solutions that can help improve the lives of seafarers.”



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