ESPO Award 2020 Shortlisted Projects: Puertos del Estado

06 November 2020

The ESPO Award 2020 will go to the port managing body that has developed a successful strategy to attract innovation and local start-ups to the port and thus matches supply and demand for innovative solutions for the port and its stakeholders. The winning port will demonstrate to what extent this strategy has led not only to stimulating innovation in the port, but also making the port ecosystem an attractive place for innovative ideas and local young start-up talents.

The four projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of Algeciras Port Authority (Spain), Port of Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Port Authority of Lisbon (Portugal) and Puertos del Estado (Spain).

ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects before the winner is announced during a special virtual event on 10 November. Register here to be the first to know the winner.

Puertos del Estado

Ports 4.0, Ports of Spain Tradetech Fund

ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2020! Could you briefly describe your project?

Ports 4.0, Ports of Spain Tradetech Fund, is the most important initiative that is carried out by the Spanish Port System (i.e. the 28 Port Authorities and the central Institution, Puertos del Estado) to foster open innovation in the port-logistics ecosystem. It has a broad scope and focuses on a complete change in paradigm in the way ports and the local, national and international entrepreneurial ecosystem currently relate. In brief, Ports 4.0 Fund provides the capital, training and access to the right partners for market-oriented innovation in the port-logistics sector for entrepreneurs and technological and innovative companies. The Fund strives to present the port-logistics sector as a feasible target for their innovations. This will allow innovative ideas and projects to be piloted in one or more ports or port-logistics private agents, which will be acting as sandboxes. The Fund’s ultimate aim is to benefit all the ports and the system itself.

ESPO: How does your project contribute to improving your relationship with the port citizen and does it succeed in directly reaching out to the local community?

Historically, port activities and shipping industry have been rather unknown for citizens and local communities, although they have a great influence in their surroundings. In this sense, one of the fundamental features of the Ports 4.0 Fund is to be located close to the local entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystems, which facilitates the sharing of knowledge and allows to establish a direct contact with the port environment. The Fund aims to promote innovative products or services that help to improve the efficiency, sustainability and safety of ports, as well as the port-city relationship and integration, and city sustainability. To reach this goal, the Fund, through the Accelerator service, managed by KPMG Spain and Innsomnia Accelerator, has created 13 offices in national port cities (A Coruña, Alicante, Algeciras, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cartagena, Las Palmas, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Santander, Sevilla, Valencia and Vigo).

ESPO: Could you describe the original and innovative character of your project?

First of all, the agreement of all 28 Spanish Port Authorities to create the Ports 4.0 Tradetech Fund is innovative in itself. They are contributing to the Fund with 1% of their annual cash flow, joining forces and resources for a common goal: to boost innovation in the public and private port-logistics sector with the objective of improving the efficiency, sustainability, security and, in short, the competitiveness of all Spanish ports through the development and introduction of new technologies. If forces and resources had not been combined in this way, the potential and results of this initiative would have been weakened and likely, repetitive. In other words, a less attractive and attainable prospect for entrepreneurs and innovative companies, fewer projects benefiting all ports, and surely redundant results.

Secondly, the vision to foster and support innovation in the whole value chain, not limited to the port as a self-contained area, is another original feature of our project. Because port competitiveness is narrowly linked with the competitiveness of the whole logistics chain, the Tradetech concept was created. It includes any technology or innovative solution that allows the transformation of any of the businesses or operations related to trade activities and logistics.

ESPOWhy do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2020?

Ports 4.0 Fund is fully aligned with the theme of the 12th edition of the ESPO Award, which this year recognises port strategies that are successful in attracting innovation and local start-ups to the port and that match supply and demand for innovative solutions for the ports and their stakeholders. Ports 4.0 is a good example of how to do it successfully whilst avoiding redundancies.

All Spanish Ports have joined forces and resources to commit themselves to this aim, creating the world’s largest fund for open innovation in the port-logistics sector. In the span of at least four years, over €20 million have been pledged to support startups, spin-off and innovative companies to increase the readiness level of their disruptive products, services and processes for the port sector, and to set up an accelerator service in every port. This will help local innovation ecosystems to become familiar with the port environment, establish contacts and collaborations among entrepreneurs and port stakeholders, and promote the port sector as an attractive and productive place to apply innovative ideas and projects.

As a result of the activities carried out, and of the continuous exploration of local, national and international entrepreneurial ecosystems, Ports 4.0 Fund has already gathered a community of over 1,300 start-ups and innovative companies interested in participating in the Fund. After the launch of the first call on 28 July, around 500 ideas and projects expressed their interest to participate. 145 ideas have been submitted in total. The presentation deadline being on 28 October, further applications are expected for projects in pre-commercialisation and commercialisation phase.

ESPO: How has your project contributed to encouraging innovators and local start-ups to be part of the port ecosystem? Could you tell us more?

The significant financial endowment of the Port 4.0 Fund (initially over €20 million) allows providing financial support to many ideas and projects in pre-commercialisation and commercialisation phase simultaneously to increase their readiness level, which translates into more possibilities to receive grants, and thus being an effective part of the port ecosystem. In addition, the high level of financial aids (up to a maximum of €2 million for the projects) allows a real opportunity to mature and launch to the market disruptive products, services and processes.

On the other hand, Ports 4.0 Fund encourages Port Authorities, as well as private partners and stakeholders to have an active participation as facilitators for the testing and piloting of the projects. These facilitators can, at the same time, be recipients of the Fund or act as a third-party financing figure. The Fund is, and is perceived as, a safe institution. Therefore, its support to projects minimises the risk seen by third parties when it comes to investing in disruptive products and services. Furthermore, the Ports themselves are being encouraged to develop “PortLabs” in collaboration with the Fund Accelerator Service, to complement Ports 4.0. The objective of these PortLabs is to become innovation clusters, serving as a place for entrepreneurs to be in direct contact with the port ecosystem, to develop proposals for Port 4.0. and to test their products and services in a real environment in collaboration with stakeholders.

"Ports 4.0 Fund evidences the real and strong commitment of the Spanish Ports to foster the necessary transition of public and private port sector towards digitalisation and real application of the new technologies that make up the economy 4.0, through open innovation procedures. This is the unique way to become more efficient, sustainable, competitive, and safer."

Francisco Toledo, President of Puertos del Estado

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