Every month we interview a promising startup or scale-up in the climate & energy tech ecosystem and ask them our 10 questions. With our platform (ZERO), we want to put these bold innovators on a pedestal and introduce them to our audience. Do you want to connect with this startup/scale-up, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Smart-Ship makes force-feedback control levers for the maritime industry. By bridging the gap in information transfer, they aim to enable a sustainable maritime future concerning people, equipment and the environment.
Recently, they have partnered up with several leading companies such as DEME Group, Bachmann Electronics, VSTEP Simulation, The Royal Netherlands Navy, Maxon Motor, MARIN, InnovationQuarter, YES!Delft, PortXL and Rijkswaterstaat.
In Ten Questions interview, you can read the inspiring answers of Co-Founder Brent Kok.
My name is Brent Kok, I’m one of the co-founders of Smart-Ship. I started out in the financial sector working at companies like Deloitte, Payvision and TMF-Group during my studies. But at the end of 2018 I got in touch with the start-up and maritime sector in the Netherlands and immediately knew that I found my sweet spot.
Our goal is to become the standard in maritime controls. This will allow us to enable the maritime sector to reach its climate goals and beyond. Currently a lot of big steps are being made regarding information systems and automation – the step that is often overlooked, is that at least for the coming years, a human will be controlling the vessel. So that’s what we add, we make sure the human is included in increasing the sustainability and efficiency of the sector.
Smart-Ship has developed force-feedback controls for the maritime sector amongst others. We make sure that all the crucial information that is gathered on board of the vessel, is transferred to the operator in an efficient, intuitive, and actionable way. We’re currently in the certification process with our controls and have our first commercial installations planned for the end of the year.
A shared mission. Even though we have very different study backgrounds (engineering, product design and economics), we always run into challenges that none of us have encountered before – our shared mission makes sure we’ll do anything to overcome that challenge.
I believe it’s the biggest challenge of the 21st century, which has been underestimated for years (and probably still is by many). It’s ironic to see that current energy shortages, dependencies on foreign dictatorships and higher prices as a result seem to be the motivation for people. To solve the challenge, I believe we should look outside current legislative framework and force society to change its behaviour. My contribution will be to fulfil the mission of Smart-Ship and to include sustainable choices into my personal life as well.
The sector is currently stuck in between the choice for which will be the fuel of the future, which is why new builds are postponed. However, to accelerate change there’re a lot of efficiency gains that can be made by altering and improving the operations of vessels currently in use. In Germany there is a scheme which subsidises vessel owners with 80% of the cost for investments to improve their vessels’ operational efficiency, meaning sustainability. Comparable regulations would significantly help the Netherlands, EU-wide market, and the entire sector.
For us that would definitely be the huge steps in our product development and getting our products ready for certification. Furthermore, it is the faith that our first customers have put in us to go ahead and plan installations in the coming months – in a conservative sector such as ours, that is a huge step.
We’ve succeeded to find a niche in the maritime sector and gain a foothold in the market. But, as mentioned before: a conservative sector and a legislative framework that is not motivating people/companies to change, will be a challenge for any company offering sustainable solutions. Luckily, we see that both are changing, but the pace of the change will be important for faster scaling.
We are always looking for talented and driven people to join our team. Furthermore, we would love to get in touch with partners, investors and potential clients in the maritime sector that want to join us in our mission.
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