Singapore Maritime Institute partners stakeholders in R&D collaborations to drive maritime digitalisation and artificial intelligence

S$22 million to fund two maritime centres of excellence

The Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) successfully held the 12th Edition of the SMI Forum at the Orchard Hotel today. Themed “Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence: Sparking the Maritime Sector”, the event’s Guest-of-Honour was Mr Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport.

2  In his opening remarks, Mr Chee announced that SMI will be awarding an additional funding of S$12 million to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to support the Maritime Energy and Sustainable Development (MESD) Centre of Excellence, as well as an additional funding of S$10 million over the next five-year period to the Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports (C4NGP).

Phase Two funding for the Maritime Energy and Sustainable Development Centre of Excellence

3  SMI will be awarding an additional S$12 million1 to NTU over the next five-year period, to support the MESD Centre of Excellence’s efforts to deepen research for 14 maritime decarbonisation R&D projects that were developed in Phase One for potential industry deployment in Phase Two.

4  The MESD will initiate joint projects on 16 R&D areas which it has identified with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and industry partners. These projects include trials on alternative fuels and energy sources2, as well as associated adoption pathways.

Phase Two funding for the Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports

5  SMI will also be awarding an additional funding of S$10 million3 over the next five-year period to the C4NGP, which is part of the College of Design and Engineering at National University of Singapore (NUS), to translate the Centre’s advanced digital twinning technologies for adoption by local port and the maritime industry.

6  In its next phase, the C4NGP aims to create and share new knowledge with local and international industry partners via its digital twin software packages. Other R&D projects to be developed include Tuas Port’s digital twin, advanced port operation planning systems, performance analysis of future automation systems, and a digital twin for haulier services in Singapore.

7  SMI Chairman, Mr Wong Weng Sun, said, “SMI is pleased to support the Phase Two funding for MESD and C4NGP. The two centres of excellence form the repositories of deep expertise and knowledge in the respective areas of green shipping and next generation port, and have made significant R&D achievements since their establishment. In the next phase, the Centres will focus efforts on translating their rich R&D capabilities for industry adoption. They will continue their role in supporting and building a strong and vibrant research and innovation ecosystem through maritime R&D excellence.”

Harnessing AI for Maritime

Maritime AI Research Programme

8  In addition to supporting the Maritime R&D Centre of Excellence, SMI will be working on AI research programmes, maritime use cases and collaborating with AI institutions to implement AI applications in maritime. SMI has awarded S$4.78 million to the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) to lead the Maritime AI Research Programme4.

9  IHPC was identified as the suitable agency to lead given its deep AI expertise and experience in maritime R&D, and will use the funding to launch the first phase of the programme with a focus on maritime data excellence and AI modelling excellence as well as use cases. IHPC will co-develop the technologies in collaboration with other institutes of higher learning, research institutes, industry partners, and relevant public sector agencies in the maritime ecosystem.

Maritime AI Grant Call

10  Jointly launched by SMI and MPA on 28 April 2022, and supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore, the Maritime AI Grant Call5 is a follow-up to the series of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) signed during the 2021 SMI Forum to address industry-wide gaps and opportunities arising from the increased use of automation and autonomy in the maritime industry. To kick-start this effort, SMI will be awarding grants to three proposals from NUS and Singapore Institute of Technology.

Memorandum of Understanding Signing with AI4Diversity

11  At the event, Mr Tan Cheng Peng, Executive Director, SMI, inked a two-year MoU with Mr Steve Nouri, Founder of AI4Diversity (AI4D), to promote the development of joint activities related to Maritime AI. Under the MoU6, AI4D will advise SMI on Maritime AI initiatives, provide recommendations for the strategic development of Maritime AI R&D in Singapore, and facilitate the exchange of information on Maritime AI including results of research collaboration.

Strengthening Digital Safety and Security

12  To enhance the industry’s resilience against cybersecurity risks, SMI has awarded S$4.77 million to iTrust, Centre for Research in Cyber Security at the Singapore University of Technology and Design to develop a Maritime Testbed of Shipboard Operational Technology (MariOT)7 system, in collaboration with the American Bureau of Shipping and Singapore Polytechnic’s Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety.

13  The MariOT will be the world’s first industrial-grade cyber-physical platform equipped with essential shipboard operational technology systems to offer a safe and realistic testing environment for cybersecurity technologies without disrupting actual vessel operations. The hybrid platform will be used to design and validate new cybersecurity technologies for deployment onboard ships, as well as to train maritime professionals and students through cyber exercises and drills.

Grooming R&D Talent through MPA Endowed Chair Professorship in Maritime Management

14  Matching NTU’s contribution of S$500,000, SMI will contribute S$500,000 to an endowment fund for additional distributable income towards the MPA Endowed Chair Professorship in Maritime Management, which will replace the current MPA Professorship in Shipping Management that was first established in 2003 with an endowment of S$4 million by MPA.

15  The Endowed Chair Professorship will appoint a full-time Endowed Chair Professor to enhance maritime education with a strong base of faculty talents in Singapore, and drive the development of pedagogy and quality of academic modules through longer-term strategic plans for the Maritime Studies programmes. This will further enhance the quality of discourse, attract collaborations with international scholars and industry, and add greater intellectual and creative vibrancy to attract prospecting students to pursue a course of study and meaningful career in maritime.

16  Said Mr Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive of MPA, “The MPA Endowed Chair Professorship will contribute to Singapore’s maritime thought leadership and enhance the quality of maritime education. It will help build a pipeline of talent that Maritime Singapore needs to support future growth.”

Annex 3: Maritime AI Research Programme

SMI has awarded S$4.78 million to the Maritime AI Research Programme for A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) to lead the development of Maritime AI.

IHPC to lead the Maritime AI Programme
(L to R): Front row: Mr Tan Cheng Peng, Executive Director, SMI; Dr Lou Jing, Deputy Executive Director, Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), A*STAR
Back row: Mr Wong Weng Sun, Chairman of SMI Governing Council; Mr Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport; Professor Lim Keng Hui, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Science & Engineering Research Council (SERC), A*STAR 

The Maritime Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programme was initiated to develop a central node for driving a coordinated effort for Maritime AI research, build capabilities for the maritime industry and facilitate industry-wide adoption of AI and other related advanced digital technologies.

With its strength in AI and advanced computing, as well as experience in maritime R&D, IHPC was appointed to lead the development of Maritime AI in four pillars over two phases:

  1. Maritime data excellence
  2. AI modelling excellence
  3. Computing excellence
  4. Applied AI excellence

The research programme has been awarded S$4.78 million to launch its first phase, which will focus on data excellence and AI modelling excellence. At the end of the first phase, maritime data processing toolkits and maritime AI model toolkits would be available for evaluation and provide a foundation for the second phase of development. Some of the AI model toolkits would address the following use cases:

  • Maritime traffic safety management
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Maritime emission monitoring and reduction
As the programme lead, IHPC will leverage on complementary strength and domain expertise of the institutes of higher learning and their centres of excellence, research institutes, industry partners and relevant public sector agencies to co-develop technologies and solutions for the maritime industry.

The industry partners supporting the programme include ABS (American Bureau of Shipping), DNV Singapore Pte Ltd, METIS Cyberspace Technology (Singapore) Pte Ltd, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK), NYK Group company MTI Co. Ltd. (Monohakobi Technology Institute), PSA Marine, ShipsFocus and Wärtsilä Singapore Pte Ltd.


For full release, read here.