BCG Digital Ventures and MISC Berhad invest in shipping startups

23 August 2021 4 min. read

The digital innovation and venturing arm of global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group has teamed up with Malaysia’s MISC Berhad to invest in three Singapore-based shipping startups.

Together, BCG Digital Ventures (BCGDV) and MISC Berhad (100 owned and in-chartered vessels focused on energy transport) have pumped an undisclosed investment amount in SOL-X, Chord X, and Spares CNX. According to the investors, all three startups – each in a different manner – have the potential to “disrupting the shipping industry”. The deal closed months ago, but was announced just last week.

“These three separate start-ups differ in their approach, yet together they powerfully demonstrate the transformational power of strategically applying digital and deep tech like AI, ML, and IIoT to create massive operational efficiencies across the shipping value chain in a way that has never been done before,” explained Sid Shah, Managing Director & Partner and Global Leader of BCGDV’s Energy Practice.

BCG Digital Ventures and MISC Berhad invest in shipping startups

“The ventures will be key drivers for the smart ship, which leverages automation and assistive technologies to ensure safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.” 

“With 90% of the world’s goods transported by ships, and considering the fragmented attempts at innovation, we believe these investments are going to be absolutely transformative to the maritime industry,” he added.

Using the investment, the ventures will ramp up activities such as business development, staffing, product development, and target market acquisition. “We couldn’t be more excited to support these teams on their bold journeys,” said Shah. 

Yee Yang Chien, President and Group CEO of MISC Berhad, commented: “The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink our approaches and operational practices…. we must be bold in exploring opportunities to further improve operational excellence in various areas including safety and process efficiency. I am confident about the prospects that the three digital ventures offer.” 

The shipping startups

SOL-X is redefining maritime safety by creating an industry-first Safety 4.0 company centered on human factors. Combining deep industry knowledge with IIoT and predictive AI, SOL-X focuses on improving safety and compliance outcomes, increasing operational productivity, and enhancing crew well-being. 

With 66% of maritime incidents caused by human error,, the company’s flagship solution, addresses the core of human factors by combining the Control of Work with crew well-being data to deliver near real-time safety intelligence on the edge. SOL-X recently signed a multiyear fleetwide agreement to partner with Eaglestar and meet the maritime industry’s ever-increasing demands for operational and safety excellence. 

Chord X, a maritime data analytics company, is advancing ship management by utilizing sensors, data integration and analytics, machine learning, and human experts to achieve operational and emission efficiency in large maritime assets. Chord X provides predictive insights to customers, enabling them to take immediate corrective actions on their maritime assets’ equipment and keeping their performance at its optimal best.

Chord X measures and analyzes the emission footprint of maritime assets. It also provides an emission module that supports regulatory reporting compliance, enabling increased oversight over carbon tax with greater accuracy than current methods, and it is working toward providing insights for maritime asset operators to use and control in weighing operational decisions that impact the emission footprint of their maritime assets. 

Chord X achieves reduced asset operating expenditures, enhanced asset reliability, and cleaner combustion for maritime asset owners and operators. 

Spares CNX is reinventing the shipping supply chain by providing an automated inventory management solution that can track the life cycle of spare parts on shore and across the fleet. An integrated hardware and software solution, PROPELLER Ship, uses RFID, QR, and other imaging technologies to monitor the location and consumption of spares. Onboard vessel engineers follow the intuitive workflows that are built into the portable tablet as they perform their day-to-day operations. 

The device interacts with the pretagged spare parts, ensuring that accurate and complete information is captured at the time and place of work while data flows seamlessly to the existing PMS or ERP systems.

The accompanying AI-driven analytics platform, PROPELLER Shore, empowers managers and procurement officers with actionable insights and recommendations for stock level optimization, rebalancing, and forward bulk procurement opportunities. 

With this approach, Spares CNX addresses an inventory inaccuracy problem that costs the global shipping industry up to $2 billion annually in spend leakage on spare parts, with massive second-order implications on day-to-day operations. In addition to the rich feature set in the market today, Spares CNX is building capabilities to address frictions around FIFO, consumable goods, onshore warehouse partner integrations, and many other areas.