Maersk launches India supply chain tech accelerator


Technology is becoming the dominant buzzword in India’s freight industry, as the $2 trillion emerging market economy rolls out a wave of reforms to eliminate procedural barriers and accelerate growth.

Maersk Line, a technology leader, unveiled an India-focused, 120-day accelerator program — dubbed OceanPro — under which a select group of start-up businesses will be able to collaborate with the ocean carrier to innovate in logistics and supply chains.

Conceptualized in India, the program complements Maersk’s global technological ecosystem and open innovation efforts.

“We recognize the immense potential of India’s technology and digital talent, and are looking to capitalize on these capabilities to help the logistics industry worldwide to reinvent itself,” Maersk Group CEO Søren Skou stated during his visit to Maersk’s global service center in Bangalore this week. “With Maersk leading the technological transformation of the shipping and logistics industry, which has traditionally been driven by manual processes, OceanPro is yet another effort by us to promote the creation of innovative solutions that meet evolving business needs.”

The container shipping giant has invited eight startups — Unido Labs, La Vela Pictures, Zasti, Inatrix, MintM, LinkedDots, KrypC, and Dhruv — to participate in the interactive program, which will leverage the benefits of blockchain, the internet of things, advanced text analytics, and artificial intelligence.

Under the program, the participating start-up businesses will develop solutions that can help end-to-end logistics services and “infuse agility into Maersk’s supply chains,” according to the statement.

“We are excited to tap the thriving startup ecosystem in India and are keen to contribute back to it. The OceanPro program as well as our investment in the Bangalore-based Maersk Technology Center, that opened in 2017, are testament to Maersk’s commitment to leveraging technology and innovation to accelerate its overall transformation in becoming the global integrator of container logistics,” the company stated.

Maersk said its website is one of the largest business-to-business platforms, with average revenue generation of $1.3 million per hour. The ocean carrier also said most of its customers use online service tools to book cargo.

“We still have a long way to go before we reach our goal, but Maersk has the will and the scale needed to drive this transformation within the company, as well as in the industry,” Skou added.

With a network of 27 offices and close to 400 employees in the region, Maersk represents roughly 20 percent of India's container freight and, as such, the carrier is expected to play a much larger role than its peers in enhancing supply chains to/from the emerging market.

Reaffirming that intent, Maersk last month introduced a digital customs program — known as the electronic cargo tracking system — for trade to/from Nepal that essentially moves via its services calling at India’s eastern port of Visakhapatnam and is touted as a first digital solution on the route. In addition, Damco, Maersk’s logistics and freight forwarding arm, in June launched its online freight forwarding platform — dubbed Twill — in India.