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INMARSAT Ferry Open Challenge invites startups and SMEs to experiment to enhance crew welfare

Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, has joined forces with the largest Passenger Shipping Group in Greece, Attica Group, and digital consultancy, Thetius, to launch the ‘Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge: crew training and entertainment’.

Attica Group ferry Superfast X - Trials are scheduled for the winner of the Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge onboard an Attica Group ship

Focusing on the needs of ferry crews, the competition invites start-ups and SMEs to put forward digital solutions to enhance the training or enrich the leisure hours of personnel. They often work for weeks at sea under intense pressure and also experience frequent rotations.

Applications are invited for solutions in four work-related areas - ship familiarisation, regulatory training, emergency response and customer services – all of which must support content delivered in Greek. A fifth category seeks solutions serving crew leisure hours through innovations which help them make better use of their own devices to stay in touch and access online media.

With £10,000 prize money at stake and support provided by Inmarsat, Attica Group and Thetius to implement proof of concept trials onboard a working ferry, the Innovation Challenge is open to initial online submissions until February 28th. First proposals must include proof of concept planning and demonstrate that they can be scalable by an owner fleet-wide.

In mid-March, a shortlist of entrants will be invited to pitch their ideas to a jury comprised of serving seafarers and crew training specialists, and representatives from Inmarsat, Attica Group and Thetius. In May, trials are scheduled onboard one of Attica Group’s vessels, using high-speed Inmarsat Fleet Xpress connectivity, Fleet Connect dedicated bandwidth and the Fleet Data IoT platform.

“Supported by Inmarsat, the first Crew Welfare Open Innovation Challenge in 2020 focused on tankers and attracted 49 entries,” said Nick Chubb, Managing Director of Thetius. “In that case, entries covered key crew wellbeing, fatigue, deck safety and administrative burden issues. We are delighted to launch the Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge to explore the impact digital solutions can make on crew lives on board a very different ship type.”

The focus on ship familiarisation, for example, reflects the fact that ferry crews face special challenges in getting up to speed when joining new vessels, especially during high season. Safety is at stake if there is a lack of understanding of the ship, its equipment and its procedures. In a sector where crew changes are frequent, digital solutions also work well to maintain awareness of fast-changing regulations and understand knowledge gaps. Again, digital solutions support simulations to test knowledge of emergency situations and can turn customer service handbooks into interactive tools.

“Attica Group is committed to exceeding expectations on best practices, motivation and wellbeing among its crews,” said Mr. George Anagnostou Chief Operations Officer, Attica Group. ”Digital solutions will play an increasing role in meeting the requirements of modern seafarers. We fully support the objectives of this innovative programme and very much look forward to hosting the winning technology on board later this year.”

Peter Broadhurst, Senior Vice President, Inmarsat Maritime, commented: “The Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge provides further encouragement from Inmarsat for the disruptors driving maritime digitalisation. Working with Shell Shipping & Maritime, the 2020 Crew Welfare Open Innovation Challenge showed the extraordinary array of digital options owners have to enhance conditions for seafarers. It also brought an original fatigue management and rest coaching platform closer to market.

“We are delighted to work with Attica Group and with Thetius once more on what promises to be a ground-breaking exploration of the innovations available for crew training and entertainment in the ferry market.”


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