Rainmaking completes first phase of multi-year program to decarbonise shipping

Rainmaking completes first phase of multi-year program to decarbonise shipping
Tarun Mehrotra, director, Trade & Transport at Rainmaking.

Innovation and venture development firm Rainmaking has announced the completion of the first cycle of its programme focussed on start-ups targeting shipping’s decarbonisation. A second six-month cycle is set to commence in August 2020.

As it progresses through to 2022, the program will identify more than 3,000 high impact technology start-ups around the world, fostering and catalysing a final shortlist of over 100 scalable pilot schemes and ventures. Each will seek a solution to the issue of carbon emissions in the shipping industry, with the ultimate goal of achieving industry-wide CO2-neutral status.

The firm has been appointed by Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm, SEEDS Capital, as one of six co-investment partners for SG $50 million (GB £28.65m, US $35.86m) of funding for maritime start-ups. The initiative, supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, focuses on start-ups working to improve maritime operational efficiency and safety.

In order to curb climate change, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals outline a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions within the next decade and net zero emissions by 2050. Effective action during the period leading to 2030 is essential, in order to reach this target and stem the damage caused by climate change. Scouting candidates for the first cycle of this vitally important program, Rainmaking initially identified 1,200 promising start-ups, with a cumulative funding of US$14 billion, based across 70 countries. Of these, 145 particularly impressive candidate companies were given full due diligence screening and a final group of 51 selected for kick-off workshop participation (similar to a ‘demo day’).

During the demo day, each start-up pitched their proposed decarbonisation solution, with those deemed most likely to succeed subsequently allocated partnerships with collaborating companies. These include organisations such as Cargill, DNV GL, Hafnia (Member of BW Group), MC Shipping (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp), Royal Dutch Shell, Vale S.A., and Wilh. Wilhelmsen. Corporate partners do not take equity in the start-ups with which they collaborate. Instead, they provide the start-ups with access to resources, real-world knowledge, and mentorship from experienced innovators and corporate leaders.

In recent years, start-ups have played an increasing role in cutting shipping’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the development of innovative solutions. Augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI) and data, automation, infrastructure and business model innovation have enabled start-ups working in the maritime industry to improve transparency in tracking of CO2 provenance and quantities, offset carbon emissions and improve vessel design. Through innovation in these areas, Rainmaking and its partners hope to solve some of the most pressing problems faced in the 21st century by the shipping industry and the world.

Nakul Malhotra, vice president open innovation for Wilhelmsen, commented: “Working with corporate partners and curated start-ups, accelerating technology capabilities to help the maritime industry tackle the big issues embodies the open innovation principles that Wilhelmsen fosters. We are excited to see the tangible steps being taken and look forward to maintaining the partnership spirit achieved.”

Tarun Mehrotra, director, Trade & Transport at Rainmaking, said: “This is not merely an exercise — these initiatives represent real, working collaborations between a corporate partner and an innovative start-up. Efforts such as these are essential to decarbonising shipping within the next ten years. Taking action within the coming decade will prove pivotal to halting climate change and ensuring the resiliency of supply chains during a crisis like the one we are presently experiencing.”