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EY ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR - MARITIME TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS

Ascenz's services helping shipping sector power ahead

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"For a small place like Singapore with a small economy, we need entrepreneurship to drive the demand globally for our products and services to raise our economic growth and bring activities into Singapore to create jobs," Mr Chia (above) says.

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Mr Sia (above) of Ascenz, who is the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year - Maritime Technology Solutions - along with Mr Chia.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP is a journey which you do with pride and passion as it helps to motivate and inspire people to drive innovation and create things that will impact peoples' lives, says Chia Yoong Hui, chief executive officer, Ascenz Pte Ltd, who is the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year - Maritime Technology Solutions - along with Sia Teck Chong, co-founder, director and chief technical officer of the company.

"Yoong Hui and Teck Chong pioneered the application of analytics to the maritime industry. Through their suite of solutions, they are helping the maritime industry make better decisions in increasing fuel savings and optimising vessel performance," says Max Loh, EY Asean and Singapore managing partner, Ernst & Young LLP, explaining how the winning entrepreneurs embody the award's theme of "Leading Through Disruption".

Mr Chia says that entrepreneurship "in addition to creating wealth from the entrepreneurial ventures, also builds market demand that creates jobs which in turn drive the economy for a prosperous society. It also creates a social change by improving the quality of our life and helps build greater morale in our society."

He adds: "For a small place like Singapore with a small economy, we need entrepreneurship to drive the demand globally for our products and services to raise our economic growth and bring activities into Singapore to create jobs."

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Asked what more can be done to promote entrepreneurship in Singapore, Mr Chia replies: "We need to continue our efforts in creating an entrepreneurial culture by encouraging people to take risks and not to worry if they fail. The recent revision of our bankruptcy law is a good example of creating an environment for risk-taking. Easy access to funds by having a SME financial institution to be able to make a quick assessment on the business for lending by simplifying the paperwork would be good.

"We should also work on building an entrepreneur network with the rest of the world to bring in diversified entrepreneurs who can help us in creating that entrepreneurial environment to inspire our people."

Ascenz addresses a rapidly growing segment that takes a Big Data approach to shipping.

"Today, the world is acknowledging that data and analytics can make a proactive effort towards performance optimisation. The shipping industry is no exception as it contemplates how to do more proactive performance optimisation with data analytics," notes Mr Chia.

LEADING ASIAN PLAYER

The company also provides its customers with tools for regulatory compliance, such as the European Union's monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) on carbon emission reporting.

Ascenz is a leading Asian player in ship data acquisition and analytics with its solutions installed in more than 400 vessels.

The company has grown from strength to strength since its initial founding in 2008 and now has 36 staff across seven offices in Asia.

Its target markets are the offshore and marine segments of shipping and it serves a variety of vessels including offshore support vessels, harbour crafts, container liners, oil tankers and bulk carriers with customers located in different geographies, including South-east Asia and Greater China.

RAISING THE MORALE

On the company being named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year - Maritime Technology Solutions, Mr Chia says: "We are both surprised and delighted, and feel great to have been chosen as the category winner, given the high standard of the other nominees. After all of our hard work, risk and stress in the entrepreneurial marathon, the award serves as an encouragement and endorsement in what we are doing."

"Most importantly it also helps to raise the morale of our team which has been with us in this marathon race. I think it is a wonderful moment for us to celebrate to keep us going in our entrepreneurial journey.

"We are a new entrant in the maritime industry which is one of the toughest and challenging industries where technology is about one or two decades behind other industries. We are the pioneer to transform shipping digitally by building a product from scratch and creating the demand in the market which allows us to market it internationally. Even in times of uncertainties the company continues to expand our market beyond Asia."

Going forward, the firm plans to continue its efforts in research and development with emphasis on technology and product development capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning for its product development to further enhance the customers' capabilities to gain a competitive edge by interpreting enormous data into real-time information and patterns discovery for prediction or forecasting in order to help them in decision-making.

"We will expand further in the international market especially in the European market where the European Union took the lead to adopt a legal framework for the MRV of CO2 emissions from maritime transport driving the demand for smart shipping solutions for data acquisition and analytics," adds Mr Chia.