Maritime Accelerator programme promotes innovation in maritime industry

  • Six globally operating maritime industry companies seek among start-ups and growth companies for partnerships
  • The goal is to strengthen the innovativeness of the industry
  • The programme is implemented by the regional development company Turku Science Park Ltd with partner Avanto Ventures Oy

In Maritime Accelerator, traditional maritime industry players operating on global markets, such as e.g. shipyards, design agencies and shipping companies search for new ideas and partnerships among smaller growth companies. The ideas may be related to, for instance, material and sensor technologies, robotics, sustainable development, or logistics solutions.

The partner companies in the first programme are Wärtsilä, Royal Caribbean, Meyer Turku, Foreship, NAPA Group, and CADMATIC. All of them represent the leading edge in the world in their respective fields. Maintaining a front row position, however, calls for continuous ability for renewal, in which Maritime Accelerator acts as an efficient sparring partner.

Searching for evolution and revolution

”Shipbuilding is a very traditional industry sector. New concepts are often based on evolution in which the goal is set just a little higher than before. Now we are also searching for a revolution, the kind of solutions that have never been implemented before”, says Juhani Pitkänen, Director, Newbuilding at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

As the competition keeps getting tighter in all fields, new ideas and applications are also sought outside the own industry. Large cruise liners are like small towns which need solutions from different areas of expertise in order to work. That’s why co-operation and partnerships are also important to Royal Caribbean.

”We are looking for new ideas and applications from Maritime Accelerator that focus mainly on two areas. The first one is safety which always comes first in our operations. The other aspect relates to environmental issues in which we see a greater potential. Questions related to, for example, sustainable development, energy and emissions are global questions for which we need new solutions”, says Marjo Keiramo, Senior Program Manager, Innovation & Technology Centers Europe at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

The accelerator programme is implemented by the regional development company Turku Science Park Ltd with partner Avanto Ventures Oy which compiled a list of over 500 start-up and growth companies during the summer. The goal for the autumn is to find from among them 1–3 such partners for each of the partner companies with which they can start the actual co-operation.

Back to front row

The future of the maritime industry as a leading field of the Finnish business world was under threat for a while at the beginning of the decade, but after the Turku shipyard was acquired by the German Meyer Werft in 2014 the situation changed completely. Meyer’s Turku shipyard is known as the builder of the world’s biggest cruise liners. One of the partner companies of Maritime Accelerator, Meyer Turku now has an order portfolio extending far into the next decade, and Finland has returned to the front row of international maritime industry.

Jukka Laiterä from Turku Science Park Ltd. launched Maritime Accelerator in The SHIFT business festival in May.

”The competitiveness of our industry has always been based on strong expertise and innovation. The enormous challenges faced by our living environment and the rapidly progressing digitalisation also have a significant effect on our line of business. The co-operation between innovative start-ups and maritime industry companies promotes the creation of new and better solutions as well as supporting the competitiveness and sustainable development of the industry. It’s been great to note the enthusiasm and commitment with which the companies involved in our accelerator programme conduct co-operation across industry borders while aiming at new, innovative business solutions”, says Jukka Laiterä, Senior Advisor at Turku Science Park Ltd which is responsible for the Maritime Accelerator programme.