News In Context

Corporates And Startups Team On Industrial Safety Tech

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.

IN OTHER NEWS THIS WEEK:

SUSTAINABILITY

Modern Meadow Enters Next Phase of Growth, Raising $130 Million In New Funding and Naming Fashion Industry Veteran As CEO

 Modern Meadow, an American biotechnology company that uses biofabrication to create sustainable materials,including vegan leather grown in a lab,  raised $130 million in fresh funding and announced and the appointment of Anna Bakst as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Bakst brings over 25 years of experience building and leading teams for American fashion houses. While on Modern Meadow’s Board of Directors, Bakst served as Brand President and CEO of Kate Spade. From 2003-2016, as Group President, she drove the expansive launch and growth of the Michael Kors Accessories and Footwear businesses.  Prior to Michael Kors, Bakst led Donna Karan International’s licensing, accessories, and footwear divisions.

Just Salad Partners With Arcadia To Offer Renewable Energy Deals, Free Salad

Just Salad has unveiled a novel way to motivate consumers towards more eco-conscious choices: reward them with free food when they power their homes with clean energy. The company has teamed up with clean energy startup Arcadia. Just Salad customers that sign up for an Arcadia subscription by the end of this month will receive a $50 credit to Just Salad. Arcadia stands out in the clean energy space because the company makes it possible for pretty much anyone to connect to renewable energy. By partnering with wind and solar farms around the U.S., Arcadia can source, verify, purchase, and retire renewable energy certificates (RECs) for energy consumers use at home — whether they own the house or rent an apartment.

Carbios and Michelin Take A Major Step Towards Developing 100% Sustainable Tires

Carbios, a French company pioneering new bio-industrial solutions to reinvent the lifecycle of plastic and textile polymers, and tiremaker Michelin, said they have taken a major step towards developing 100% sustainable tires. Michelin has successfully tested and applied Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process for PET plastic waste, in order to create a high tenacity tire fiber that meets the tire-giant’s technical requirements.

ENERGY

Sunroof, a Swedish startup that has developed roof-tile technology that generates solar power and then links up nearby houses, creating a sort of virtual power plant, allowing homeowners to sell surplus energy back to the grid, closed  a €4.5 million round. SunRoof’s approach is reminiscent of Tesla Energy, with its solar roof tiles, but whereas Tesla runs a closed energy ecosystem, SunRoof said it plans to work with multiple energy partners.

MOBILITY

Baidu to Offer First Paid Robotaxi Service in China

Baidu will start China’s first paid robotaxi service on May 2 in Beijing’s Shougang Industrial Park, one of the venues for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the company announced on April 29. Users of the Apollo Go app will be able to call a robotaxi without a safety driver within the geofenced area. However, the company emphasised that human operators will be able to remotely control the vehicles over 5G in case of an emergency

CYBERSECURITY

U.S. Government Probes VPN Hack Within Government Agencies

For at least the third time since the beginning of this year, the U.S. government is investigating a hack against federal agencies that began during the Trump administration but was only recently discovered, according to senior U.S. officials and private sector cyber defenders.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Goldman Sachs Claims Quantum Computing Breakthrough

Goldman Sachs is claiming a quantum computing breakthrough, designing algorithms it says could be used on hardware that may be available in as little as five years.The bank has been working with Silicon Valley startup QC Ware to see how quantum computing can be tapped for the Monte Carlo algorithm used to evaluate risk and simulate prices for a variety of financial instruments.

DBS, Temasek And JPMorgan Set Up Distributed Ledger Technology-Based Joint Venture

DBS, Temasek and JPMorgan have set up a joint venture company that will use distributed ledger technology to challenge the cumbersome hub-and-spoke model applied to traditional cross-border payment flow. The new ventures, dubbed Partior, has it roots in project Ubin, a blockchain-based protytpe for multi-currency payments developed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore in partnership with JPMorgan and Temasek. Open to banks worldwide, the commercial applications of the payments network include cross-border payments in multiple currencies, foreign currency exchange, settlement of foreign currency denominated securities, as well as integration with other blockchain-based platforms.Partior will start with a focus on facilitating flows primarily between Singapore-based banks in both USD and SGD, with the intent to expand service offerings to other markets and in various currencies.

Gemini Partners With MasterCard On Crypto Reward Card

Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini has teamed up with Mastercard and WebBank for its upcoming credit card that lets users earn crypto rewards. In the works since Gemini acquired fintech Blockrize at the beginning of the year, the card now has a waitlist of more than 140,000 ahead of its summer launch. Mastercard will act as exclusive card network, with WebBank as issuer.

Greece’s Viva Wallet Raises $80 Million For Its Neobank Targeting Small Business Merchants

Viva Wallet, a Greek startup building banking services aimed at small and medium merchants, has picked up financing of $80 million, money that it will be using to expand its footprint and the services it offers to users, in particular expanding its Merchant Advance loans business. The company is live in 23 European markets and plans soon to expand to Croatia, Hungary and Sweden.

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.