Rotterdam is the most important and busiest port in Europe but it is also a shining beacon of innovation. The port is committed to leading the port and shipping industry in digitalization and sustainability. Part of this commitment was the creation of a port innovation ecosystem, encouraging various organizations to cooperate and contribute to a more innovative port, one of these is the PortXL acceleration program.
The concept of an acceleration program is not rocket science. Such programs happen all over the globe, with similar building blocks: pitch training, business model canvases, sales tips, legal and patent assistance, and so forth.
Each accelerator has its own network of partners, investors, industry experts, mentors, and alumni. The more this group feels like a community and the more you foster a collaboration-rich environment. In short, the network effect is what makes or breaks an accelerator.
The network effect is the concept that the value of a service increases when the number of people who use the service increases. Applying it to innovation ecosystems means the more companies you are engaged with, without foregoing quality for quantity, the more your service will benefit. Growing a community organically over the years will create an acceleration program of world renown.
Compared to organizations active in the start-up world such as Techstars or Y-Combinator, PortXL is a small fish, but the team consistently punches above its weight. With a team that rarely had more than ten people in it, PortXL has become over the years one of the most interesting programs in this sector, attracting innovative companies from all over the globe.
Many of these companies then settle in Rotterdam and contribute to growing the innovation profile of the city. Others return to their home countries and spread the word on how the program has helped them grow and how partners such as Van Oord and the Port of Rotterdam are open to innovation.
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Mindset is a key factor when involving the network. Maritime is a conservative industry and changing the way people think about things is a priority. Even if it happens one person at a time, due to the network effect that will spread exponentially.
The inspiration factor is significant too: any organization can benefit from a breath of fresh air coming in. Exposing their employees to an entrepreneurial mindset unlocks potential that was before dormant and helps the internal efficiency of the organization.
The picture above shows one of PortXL’s live validation sessions. Last April, four innovative companies presented via Zoom while one joined in person, flying all the way from the USA. In total there were fourteen representatives joining the session from partners Port of Rotterdam, Van Oord, Boskalis, Damen, City of Rotterdam, Ampelmann & InnovationQuarter, as well as two guests.
This is what makes the PortXL program stand out compared to other acceleration programs. At PortXL you have the chance to pitch and confront yourself with the industry before you even make a decision on joining the B2B acceleration program focused on facilitating contract signings between corporates & start-ups.
If you are an innovator with solutions related to decarbonization, then many of those involved in PortXL will be interested in meeting you. PortXL’s next live session will be on May 31st. If you are interested in joining you can submit your application here or send an email directly to the scouting manager Mitja Caboni.
Whether your technology is reducing fuel consumption, testing alternative fuels, improving operations via software (i.e. smart shipping), new hardware to make processes more sustainable, or anything else that can help us all reach net-zero emissions (for shipping or other maritime-related sectors), PortXL will help you scale your solution to the next level.
Once receiving the seal of approval and validation from PortXL’s partners that are leaders in the industry any early-stage startup, will have a much easier life convincing investors and future clients of the validity of their solution.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. In the cover picture: HMM container ship at Port of Rotterdam. Photo Credit: Rohan Dixit via Unsplash.