Inmarsat, Shell, Thetius launch crew welfare innovation challenge

Crew on board a vessel. Credit: HASENPUSCH DIETMAR

Satellite communications giant Inmarsat has teamed up with oil major Shell Shipping and Maritime and maritime digital consultancy Thetius to launch a new competition that will identify novel solutions with the potential to improve crew safety and welfare across four innovation challenge areas spanning deck safety, fatigue, administration reduction, and overall well-being.

Startups and small and medium-sized enterprises are being encouraged to submit an application for the six-week Open Innovation Challenge to stand a chance of winning a GBP10,000 (USD13,092) cash grant to test their idea by implementing a proof of concept on board a vessel. The winning company will also receive support from Inmarsat, Shell Shipping and Maritime, and Thetius.

Thetius will run the challenge, starting from the shortlisting of submitted applications. Finalists will then be invited to pitch their idea to a decision-making jury at the end of September. The majority of the jury will be made up of serving seafarers, with representatives from Inmarsat, Shell Shipping and Maritime, and the welfare sector. The deadline for application is on 16 September 2020.

“Shell is committed to improving the safety and well-being of seafarers,” said Richard Holdsworth, head of Shell Ventures. “We’re excited to learn more and help support new technologies that could make a difference to the welfare of crew.”

The competition has been launched as COVID-19 has exposed the welfare of seafarers to global scrutiny.

In June, Inmarsat and Thetius published a report, Welfare 2.0: How can the Next Generation of Technology Enable Better Crew Safety, Health, and Wellbeing at Sea?, which highlighted the current lack of funding for crew welfare technology that has hindered its development.

“Our report last month shone a light on the need for far greater support and investment in crew welfare technology,” said Ronald Spithout, president of Inmarsat. “This collaboration and challenge are designed to help nurture and develop solutions that can help improve the lives of seafarers.”

Information about the Open Innovation Challenge can be accessed here.