The logistics industry is taking a page from the tech sector when it comes to innovating operational and process improvement. Logistics providers, customers, and startups are teaming up and forming cross-industry accelerator programs to pilot new technology and up the competitive shipping game.
Shipping giant Maersk, working with telecommunications equipment provider Ericsson, is collaborating with Plug and Play, which helps connect startups and corporations, to give it a go. In March, they announced plans to participate in Plug and Play Supply Chain & Logistics accelerator. The idea is to go beyond startup scouting and bring different cross-industry expertise together to improve supply chain efficiency, according to a press release.
"Maersk intends to be the leading integrator of container logistics, providing simple solutions to complex supply chain problems. Digital innovation plays a key role in delivering that ambition,” said Ibrahim Gokcen, chief digital officer at A.P. Moller - Maersk Transport & Logistics, said in a statement. “We are excited about this new platform and its capability to bring the digital ecosystem together to create innovative digital solutions for the shipping and logistics industry."
The platform Gokcen is referring to was created by Plug and PlayGiven, and its aim is to speed up opportunities for disruptive business models that ease access to large amounts of data, fuel new technology development, and help customers engage in more channels, according to the companies. Its launch brings together more 30 corporations and showcases 12 industry startups that are focusing on innovations in the customer experience, Internet of Things device use, advanced analytics and future technologies connecting multiple parties, such as blockchain.
Like in similar accelerators for other business segments, there is a built-in support network. Companies accepted into the program have access to and may receive funding from Plug and Play Ventures, Ericsson and Maersk in addition to weekly mentor sessions with industry thought leaders, entry to 22 international locations, and the potential to pilot projects, according to the press release.
Other logistics companies have also made moves in this area. FedEx, for example, is the sponsor of the EPIcenter Logistics Innovation Accelerator, which is now in its third year and is accepting applications for 2017.
This 15-week accelerator is seeking out companies working on transportation or logistics-oriented applications and hardware for: first-mile/last-mile delivery; data driven supply chain management and predictive analytics; IoT; smart packaging; robotics, location- and contextual-based services, and additive manufacturing. Up to six companies will be selected, and each will receive $50,000 in initial seed capital and an intense, mentorship.
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