After running as an innovation program, Lloyd’s Register, a 261-year-old London-based organization that focuses on improving the safety of critical infrastructures globally, announced this week that it has spun out a not-for-profit organization to help corporates collaborate with startups to drive the adoption of technologies that will make industrial environments safer.
The Safetytech Accelerator, a non-profit established by Lloyd’s Register and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, is the first and only technology accelerator focused exclusively on safety and risk in industrial environments, says Managing Director and Board Member Maurizio Pilu. Its mission is to apply leading-edge digital technologies such as data analytics, AI, visual analytics, augmented reality, sensors, wearables, drones and robotics, to the world’s most complex safety and risk challenges.
The idea is to take technologies that were developed for other applications and apply them to specific problems posed by industry. Challenges range from preventing cargo ship fires and shipping accidents to efficiently analyzing government data about workplace hazards while safeguarding privacy.
Around 20 clients have worked with the innovation program to date, including Wallenius Wilhelmsen, Scorpio, Pepsi Cola, Shell, Singapore’s Pacific International Lines and the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, a government agency responsible for the regulations and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare.
For example, Monaco-based Scorpio, a shipping company that specializes in the transportation of refined petroleum products, dry bulk commodities and offshore services, asked the accelerator if digital technology could help it reduce accidents caused by human error by identifying unsafe situations before they occur and analyzing the root causes. A global challenge was organized that sought proposals for data capturing and analyzing technologies which could drive understanding of decision making on a commercial ship to improve safety. The winner was SensingFeeling, a London-based startup that developed advanced human emotion sensing products, powered by computer vision and machine learning. The technology was originally designed to sense how retail customers are feeling by observing their behavior, but without compromising privacy.
During a proof-of-concept trial SensingFeeling deployed video technologies to interpret crew behavior in Scorpio’s training simulator in Manila and then tested it onboard a ship for six months, with full consent of all involved. The solution correlated captured data against telemetrics such as position, speed, propulsion and data from auxiliary systems to identify relationships between crew behavior and incidents, such as emotional responses during berthing and mooring.
“This opened up a completely new area for the startup: creating risk indexes from visual inputs in safety critical environments,” says Pilu. “It is still very early stage, but it will be interesting to see how this develops further.”
This week the Safetytech Accelerator launched a new dedicated program called Waypoint to enable the commercialisation of emerging safety and risk technology in the marine industry. Waypoint, run in collaboration with maritime innovation consultancy Thetius, is aimed at making emerging safety and risk technologies accessible and affordable for the whole marine industry while providing startups with a commercially viable route to scale in the marine market. The 12 week acceleration program will initially run as a pilot on an invite-only basis. The first startup to join Waypoint will be announced in the coming weeks.
In addition to safety at sea going forward the Safetytech Accelerator will have four other main priority areas: safety for a sustainable future, food safety, safety of physical infrastructure and safety of digital systems.The accelerator is actively encouraging companies, government organizations and other trusts and foundations to collaborate with it. “Safety is usually not seen as a competitive issue,” says Pilu. “It is an area that people are eager to collaborate on.”
Pilu, a technology and innovation executive has nearly three decades of experience in R&D, strategy, innovation, corporate development, commercialisation of technology and science and technology policy and investment. Before his appointment as MD of the Safetytech Accelerator, he was Vice President of Digital Innovation at Lloyd’s Register Group, where he established the first ever digital innovation practice in Lloyd’s Register history. Prior to Lloyd’s Register, he co-founded and was executive director of the UK’s national digital innovation center, the Digital Catapult. In his career he has been a prolific innovator and inventor, with over 40 granted US patents and 35 peer-reviewed scientific publications.
Other board members include Nial McCollam, Lloyd’s Register Group CTO and Annemie Ress, who will draw extensively from her experience as Managing Director and COO at the Innogy Innovation Hub, Global HR Director at Skype, Global Head of People Innovation at eBay, Senior HR Director at eBay & PayPal Europe, and previous roles as Head of HR at The International Petroleum Exchange and at PepsiCo.
As part of the Lloyd’s Register family, the Safetytech Accelerator is not only providing a platform for collaboration. It is also offering access to highly specific sector and regulatory expertise to its collaborators. For example, fires on cargo ships are an industry-wide issue. Placing sensors everywhere would be prohibitively expensive, says Pilu. Its experts can use their knowledge of cargo ships and computational fluid dynamic techniques to determine where sensors would prove most useful.
There are several models for collaboration with the Safetytech Accelerator. For certain industry-wide challenges, the accelerator is using its Proof-of-Concept Fund to support early stage trials by selected startups. More generally companies and partners who come to the accelerator with specific challenges would financially contribute towards the cost of trials.
Over time, the accelerator is seeking to partner with other trusts and foundations that share its mission and passion to make the world safer and more sustainable. “In our discussions with partners and clients we’re increasingly seeing that our work in safetytech not only can directly addresses specific industry challenges, but also enables broader sustainability and social goals,” he says. For example, shipping accidents sometimes lead to spills that cause environmental disasters. “ We hope to be able to play a key part in contributing towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the coming years,” Pilu says.
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