Plug and Play Maritime celebrates its first EXPO Day in Antwerp

After a year of hard work, Plug and Play Maritime showcased the first results of the innovation projects during their inaugural EXPO Day in the Botanic Sanctuary in Antwerp. Plug and Play Maritime is an Antwerp-based accelerator aimed at stimulating innovation for a greener, smarter, and safer maritime industry. 

Since March 2021, partners Compagnie Maritime Belge, DXC Technology, Euronav, Port of Antwerp-Bruges, and The City of Antwerp have collaborated with Plug and Play Tech Center, the Silicon Valley-based innovation platform. Aiming to strengthen an innovative startup ecosystem centered around the seafaring sector, Plug and Play Maritime brings new technologies and entrepreneurs to the region and accelerates technological and business development. To reach this goal, the innovation hub connects and matches its partners with the world’s most innovative startups.

EXPO Day can be seen as a graduation ceremony where we celebrate the collaboration between the Founding Partners and startups. Moreover, it is all about bringing the whole ecosystem together and sharing the latest trends, insights and ideas with each other.

Marijn Woudberg, Program Manager at Plug and Play Maritime.

On June 2, attendees were presented with several pilot presentations conducted by the partners and the startups Autonomous Knight (BE), Zetako (LU), Closelink (DE), Cyberowl (UK), (BE), (FI), Notilo Plus (FR), Bleenco (DE) and Fuelsave (DE). The startups were selected from a shortlist of about 100. From this list, the partners chose nine of the most promising startups to collaborate on a new innovation project that addressed the technological challenges critical for their operations and the global maritime industry. 

"The unified port is the economic engine of Flanders. Thanks to smart innovations it can continue to operate at full speed. This very first Expo Day of Plug and Play Maritime gives us a great insight into the intriguing world of maritime innovative applications that are being developed here in Antwerp," says Annick De Ridder, Vice Mayor of The City of Antwerp and President of the Board of Directors of Antwerp-Bruges.

The projects focused on connectivity, lowering the fuel consumption of vessels, smart shipping, and the decarbonization of the industry. As an example, one of the Plug and Play partners, Euronav, cooperated with the startup Notilo Plus to use underwater drones and AI to scan the hull of ships to know when they needed cleaning to save fuel.

It was discovered there were three things needed to decarbonize shipping in the maritime industry by Alexander Saverys, CEO of Compagnie Maritime Belge. CMB has recently released a hydrogen engine that can be used for clean ships and because of this, it was ideal for the CMB CEO to relay his vision for the future of clean shipping. 

“With Plug and Play Maritime we want to boost innovation and entrepreneurship in the maritime industry. Thanks to Plug and Play Maritime the City of Antwerp can strengthen its position as an innovation leader in the international maritime space and as an innovative business city,” said Erica Caluwaerts, Vice Mayor of The City of Antwerp (innovation and economy).

During Spring 2022, two new strong members joined the platform as ecosystem partners: DEME Group and the Japanese shipping company IINO Lines.

“We are delighted to welcome both partners on board at our Plug and Play Maritime program. DEME Group and IINO Lines bring in a lot of expertise and know-how within the industry. The new partnership offers them the opportunity to create collaborations with a wide network of global technology companies. At the same time, it also emphasizes our ambitions to build a truly global platform with international reach,” David Neef, Co-Director of Plug and Play Maritime.

Both DEME Group and IINO Lines join forces with Plug and Play Maritime and the founding partners, with the ambition to jointly pursue the common goal of accelerating technological advancement in the industry as well as their respective corporations.

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About Plug and Play Tech Center

Plug and Play is the leading innovation platform, connecting startups, corporations, venture capital firms, universities, and government agencies. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, we're present in 35+ locations across five continents. We offer corporate innovation programs and help our corporate partners in every stage of their innovation journey, from education to execution. We also organize startup acceleration programs and have built an in-house VC to drive innovation across multiple industries where we've invested in hundreds of successful companies including Dropbox, Guardant Health, Honey, Lending Club, N26, PayPal, and Rappi. For more information, visit