Virtual signing: Nicklas Viby Fursund, co-founder of Motion Ventures, Takuya Sakamoto, representative, MOL PLUS, James Ong, investment committee, IMC Ventures and Nikolas Pyrgiotis, VP of Technology Ventures, Signal Ventures.
Photo: Motion Ventures

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), IMC Group and Signal Group to become the latest big shipping names to back a Singapore maritime venture capital fund. The three companies join ship manager Wilhelmsen and German terminal operator HHLA in backing Motion Ventures’ $30m fund aimed at disrupting the shipping and port sectors. The financial contributions from the latest investors were not disclosed, but a spokeswoman told TradeWinds that the fund was “still open to other investors”.

Motion Ventures said the three latest companies to join the fund would “expand its reach to Japan and Greece and introduce fresh capital to the fund”. It added that to date, “no other maritime fund has had as much participation from major maritime conglomerates”.

All three new investors have participated via their respective corporate venture arms – MOL Pure, IMC Ventures and Signal Ventures.
Motion Ventures also has backing from the Singapore government’s SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, which jointly invest in startups with the fund.

“Introducing MOL PLUS, IMC Industrial Group and Signal Ventures into our corporate consortium brings us closer to our goal of accelerating the industry-wide adoption of new technologies,” said Motion Ventures general partner Shaun Hon.

“What most startup founders underestimate is how difficult it can be to adapt their solution for multiple conglomerates.
“This problem is amplified further in the maritime and supply chain sectors because of their scale of operations, which is why it’s so important to bring in more players across the value chain,” he said.

Nick Clarke, chief executive and co-founder of maritime start-up Greywing said: “Motion Ventures’ consortium brings much more than capital to the table and have shown that they really have a founders’ interests at the core of what they’re doing.” Greywing recently raised $2.5m in seed funding from a group of investors including Motion Ventures alongside the likes of Flexport, Y-Combinator and Entrepreneur First.

Motion Ventures said four of the fund’s target companies now have a working or commercial collaboration with at least one of the companies in the consortium.

“Motion Ventures’ corporate consortium approach has resonated with us as a way to supercharge startups and reduce innovation risks alongside other established industry leaders,” said Takuya Sakamoto, representative, MOL PLUS. IMC Ventures’ James ONG said the Motion Ventures’ team had “opened new doors to the latest technologies that our business units can use” and that it had also given IMC an avenue to “add strategic value to the founders by helping them mould the solutions that will ultimately, shape the maritime value chain of tomorrow”.

Motion Ventures’ co-founders Michael Pomerleau and Nicklas Viby Fursund, will also be joining the fund as new general partners.

In March this year, Singapore’s senior minister for transport, Chee Hong Tat, said that he wanted the city state to become the “top maritime start-up hub in the world, the Silicon Valley for maritime technology”. Chee said Singapore also aims to “more than triple” the number of maritime tech start-ups supported by government funding from 30 to 100 by 2025.

By Dale Wainwright | TradeWinds