New initiatives announced by the government are expected to spur Singapore’s maritime industry. These new initiatives were revealed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Sea Asia, a bi-annual conference and exhibition event catering to the shipping industry.

The first initiative constitutes the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) extending its Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund for an additional five years and top it up by S$50 million.

The Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund was established in 2003 with S$100 million to fund and support research and development and test-bedding of maritime technologies by universities, research institutes and companies in Singapore over a period of ten years.

The second initiative is a S$25 million Productivity Programme under its Maritime Cluster Fund. The programme will offer co-funding support for productivity initiatives by maritime companies.

Tharman also announced a plethora of measures targeted at developing quality manpower for the industry. These include internships and a new maritime economics concentration at the Singapore Management University (SMU).

MPA has plans to set aside S$2 million to grant a Global Internship Award to about 100 local undergraduates on maritime-based internships over the next five years. MPA and the American Bureau of Shipping will also be jointly establishing a professorship in maritime technology at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

According to Tharman, Singapore’s maritime industry contributes about 7 per cent to the GDP and as such is a key pillar of the economy.

Singapore is home to some 130 international shipping groups and 5,000 maritime companies that employ over 170,000 people.