Update #01 | Towards A MaritimeTech Innovation Hub in New York City

Maritime Global Technologies Innovation Center (MGTIC) to be hosted at SUNY Maritime College. Image Credit: SUNY Maritime College.

Note: This post updates #UnderConstruction | Towards A MarineTech Innovation Hub in New York City.

The group that met on Friday, October 6, 2017 met again for a follow up on Friday, November 10, 2017. This blog is a summary of the discussion at took place at that meeting, and the resulting outcome.

The Bottomline: Dr. Christopher Clott, ABS Chair of Marine Transportation and Logistics at SUNY Maritime College and Dr. Richard Burke, ABS Professor of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering have announced the formation of the Maritime Global Technologies Innovation Center (MGTIC) to be hosted at SUNY Maritime College.

The people for whom this post will be most relevant are founders building software for the ocean freight shipping industry, for whom relevant resources are often sorely lacking. It will also be relevant for early-stage investors like me, who want to engage more fully with the shipping industry as we assess startups serving the maritime market.

Please note that the following descriptions are based on my interpretation of the conversations we’ve had over the course of the meetings in which I was a participant. I could be wrong. Ultimately, SUNY Maritime College and Drs. Clott and Burke will determine what will work best and I am happy to support them in bringing their vision to life.

What is the Maritime Global Technologies Innovation Center? Think of MGTIC as a hybrid between a startup incubator, a startup accelerator, and an early-stage venture fund. Obviously, these elements do not yet all exist today. The goal is to have each of these elements in place in the near future.

  • Startup ideas that originate from faculty, staff, and students of the SUNY system will be incubated at the center.
  • Startups whose founders have no ties to the SUNY system will benefit from the center’s ability to help them accelerate customer development as they search for a repeatable, profitable and scalable business model. I expect that such startups might also find employees from the SUNY Maritime College community.
  • As the center matures, we expect that it will establish a venture fund to complement its activities. Ideally, this fund will invest alongside other early stage investors in startups that have been incubated at MGTIC as well as in startups that have been accelerated at the center. Details on this will be hammered out later. For now, we think the center should replicate one of the following existing models; MIT’s The Engine, or the Iowa Global Insurance Accelerator, or Texas Capital Factory. Perhaps, MGTIC will take the best elements of each of those models and combine them into something wholly unique.

What will The Maritime Global Technologies Innovation Center do? SUNY Maritime College is an educational institution, so that characteristic forms the foundation on which MGTIC exists. That said, the global maritime industry confronts numerous headwinds such as; artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, increasing issues around regulatory compliance, offshore sources of renewable energy, safety, connected devices, cloud-computing, cybersecurity, and blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies present challenges the shipping industry must grapple with sooner or later. Maritime Global Innovation Center’s goal is to lead the effort towards turning these perceived challenges into profitable opportunities for incumbent players in the industry AND for technology startups developing innovations that the industry can adopt. As an early-stage investor who has been studying startups building software for the maritime market, I can’t express how excited I am to be able to collaborate with an entity like MGTIC.

Nice! What’s Next? At our meeting on November 10, we agreed to plan a kick-off event on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at SUNY Maritime College. If maritime technology holds any interest for you, please save that date. We hope to convene a group that represents each of the stakeholder communities that MGTIC is being established to serve. It will coincide with the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Annual Conference and Exhibition. We’ll have more specific details about the kick-off later.

For more info:

  • You can email the crew at SUNY Maritime College that’s working directly on this via the MGTIC’s website – see link above.
  • If you’re an early stage VC interested in staying abreast of how things are progressing, you can reach me via email/Twitter/LinkedIn, and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about this – to the best of my ability. I’m also looking for angel investors and VCs with whom we can co-invest.
  • If you’re a startup founder who wants to hear what other founders think about this “thing” – Brian Wilson from Duro UAS, Fauad Shariff and Petere Miner from CoLoadX have attended both meetings so far and can give you their take about where they feel things are heading.

Other initiatives focused on maritime technology, or supply chain technology more broadly – Leonardo Zangrando of Startup Wharf has a more complete listing here;

Last, I’m gonna plug related work I have been doing with a team of 7 other supply chain enthusiasts in New York City; We launched The New York Supply Chain Meetup with a minimum viable launch on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at Work-Bench. We hope to do much more in 2018, and we hope you will decide to join us, after all “The world is a supply chain.” and as a result, there are things to discuss.

 

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