On Friday, October 6, 2017, a small group of about 20 people got together at the American Bureau of Shipping in Manhattan, New York. The group was convened by Christopher Clott, Ph.D. He is the ABS Chair of Marine Transportation and Logistics in the Global Business & Transportation Department at SUNY – Maritime College. The group represented a healthy mix of perspectives – investors, community organizers, startup founders, academics, service providers, students, shipping industry professionals, regulators, etc. etc.
Chris convened the meeting to discuss a joint-initiative by SUNY Maritime and EEX Maritime to create a maritime technology center in New York City. This center will benefit from the central position that SUNY Maritime occupies in the global shipping industry, the network and knowhow that EEX Maritime is building as a connector between technology startups and the shipping industry, and the prominent role that New York City occupies in the global supply chain market.
About SUNY Maritime: SUNY Maritime College is one of six state maritime academies in the United States. Located 30 minutes from mid-town Manhattan, Maritime College educates dynamic leaders for the global maritime industry.1
About EEX Maritime: EEX Maritime is a joint-venture between MarineCycles and EEX. EEX Maritime helps startups gain access to the global shipping market through its hubs of activity in Helsinki, New York, and Singapore.
As one would expect with a meeting of this nature . . . We left with many more unanswered questions than we had at the outset.
Basically, the aim of this center will be 3 fold;
- To aggregate the knowledge that exists in New York City in the areas of supply chain and technology. The initial emphasis is on shipping given the coordinating role that SUNY Maritime, EEX Maritime, and the ABS are playing in getting things started.
- To foster the growth of technology startups building products for the global supply chain market, focusing especially at the outset on those building products for the shipping market, by enabling them to connect with potential early customers, and helping them obtain hard-to-access input from the industry.
- To foster investments in the startups described above through accelerator and incubator programs that utilize the resources that are uniquely available to participants in such programs because of SUNY Maritime’s history.
The immediate challenge is to get things going by doing small, easy to accomplish things that start an ascending spiral of positive feedback loops to help this initiative gain momentum. While we are doing that, we’ll work on trying to figure out answers to the bigger questions which will require more time to answer.
Here are a few of the questions we are currently thinking about;
- What is the best model to accomplish this?
- What funding sources are available for an initiative like this beyond the sources available through SUNY Maritime?
- Which startups, and which entrepreneurs might be interested in an initiative like this? What would such startups want to get out of an initiative like this? What can this group do for such startups right now, while these plans are being developed further?
- Where should such a center be physically located in order to give it the best chance of succeeding? How does its location affect how easily it can become an established part of the tech community in New York City?
- What priorities should an advisory council focus on over the next 3, 6, 9, and 12 months?
In keeping with my habit of biting off far more than I can chew, I have volunteered to join the advisory council, and to act as a liaison between the early-stage venture capital community and the team that will be doing the day-to-day work that is required to get this center off-the-ground. Ultimately, we believe the maritime center should focus on 3Cs; Connections, Customers, and Capital.
If you would like to help make this happen, or if you just want to stay in the know about progress on this initiative, you can email me at email@example.com. I am also very easy to find on Twitter and/or LinkedIn.
If it makes sense to do so, I will introduce you to Chris and his colleagues at SUNY Maritime who can discuss their plans and the things they need some help with more comprehensively. Otherwise, I will pass your contact information along so that you can be added to any mailing lists we set up for this purpose.
Lastly; I would be irresponsible if I did not include these plugs;
- The New York Supply Chain Meetup is a community of practice for people developing solutions to supply chain problems at startups, large corporations, academic institutions, and everything in between. The focus is primarily on the application of cutting-edge technologies to global supply chain innovation. Join us for our first event at Workbench on November 16, 2017. I am working with a few other volunteers to get it off the ground.
- My “unnecessarily long” blog posts on startups building software for the shipping industry;
Update #1: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 00:48
- Added “About SUNY Maritime” and “About EEX Maritime.