“This was partnership in action – showing how different organisations, industry professionals, students, and a key ocean business arena can work together to address the maritime challenges of today and tomorrow.
“We see it as a great success.”
Lars-Henrik Folke Ossum, Chief Digital Officer at Astrup Fearnley, is crystal clear in his assessment of the 48 hour ‘hackathon’ that took place at this year’s Nor-Shipping.
The event, a collaboration between his firm, Veracity by DNV, Microsoft and Nor-Shipping, aimed to demonstrate how innovative digital solutions can be harnessed to address industry issues, while also engaging fresh talent and positioning maritime as a viable career option for ambitious students.
“For an industry that leads world trade, we need leading minds to develop our potential,” Ossum states. “The hackathon was a way of trying to bridge the gap between existing players and future stars – showing them how they could make an impact.”
For one of the participants the impact was almost immediate, with their recruitment as Astrup Fearnley’s new summer intern for 2022.
“That was an added bonus,” Ossum laughs, “ but the real aims were a little longer-term!”
The hackathon kicked off on Tuesday, 5 April, at Nor-Shipping, where competing teams – participating both physically and via Microsoft Teams – were introduced to the Emissions Prediction Calculator (EPC) API.
This innovation, released last year, is itself a collaboration between Astrup Fearnley and Veracity. It works by utilising Veracity’s wealth of validated fleet data to deliver quality assured emissions data predictions for individual vessels. As such it enables ship brokers, owners, charterers and other key stakeholders make informed decisions on the environmental performance of selected ships.
“In short, it’s a really powerful tool to aid industry decarbonisation,” Ossum explains, “showing how big data (there’s validated data from over 10,000 vessels on Veracity) can be harnessed to improve decision making and drive transformation.
“It empowers change, helping brokers, amongst others, play a vital role in that process.”
The students were asked to play their part by acting as broker consultants, using the EPC and detailed data on vessels and voyages to develop a prototype helping end-users determine how to optimise GHG emissions for a bulk carrier.
Companies were also invited to get onboard, embedding the EPC into existing software and making suggestions to improve the API and calculator.
And all within just two days.
“We were really pleased with how many teams rose to the challenge,” Ossum comments. “Obviously, not everyone finished the task, but the engagement we saw was fantastic. As were the results.”
Global challenges, collective commitment
But, as Ossum, points out, the process was as important as the end result.
He notes that this sort of active engagement, whereby people are collaborating on a set challenge, is “an excellent teambuilding activity” as individuals come to recognise one another’s strengths and how to play off one another, building strong working relationships.
“In one way it provides a model for how we, as an industry, need to approach the future,” he adds. “The challenges we face can’t be solved by individuals, they’re too big to address in isolation. So, we need a range of expertise and competency, as well as powerful digital tools, to help accelerate change. The hackathon had all the necessary ingredients.”
The exercise also showed students how their skills – ranging from creativity, to coding, and common sense – were relevant for maritime, demonstrating how they could play a part in transforming an industry that otherwise may have been off their ‘career radars’.
“It was a great positioning exercise,” Ossum notes. “Not just for the industry, but for the partners, for Nor-Shipping, and for the students to get them in front of prospective employers. It’s been a win, win, win, win… and something we’ll definitely consider doing again.”
The hackathon winners were announced on stage at the end of Nor-Shipping’s Blue Economy Startup Day on 7 April. Bothers Martin Johannes Nilsen and Henrik Aleksander Nilsen were the overall winning team, with Håkon Rikheim, Erling Olweus and Sander Schrader winning the Azure Award, and Tormod Ongstad, Lan Nguyen, and Doriyush Ubaydi (who only met on the opening day of the event) winning the Honourable Mention Award. Oslo’s Chooose won the Company Award.
It’s too early for Ossum to say whether the activity will be repeated at the next Nor-Shipping – taking place in Oslo and Lillestrøm 6-9 June 2023 – but he notes:
“I think this is an excellent way to use the Nor-Shipping arena; not just for exhibition stands and conferences or talks, but for activities that bring people together and really showcase both talent and opportunity. The fact that the next one is focused on the theme of #PartnerShip makes it even more relevant.
“I look forward to seeing how we can hack into one another’s potential at the next Nor-Shipping and beyond.”