YMX: Seeking new solutions

The second edition of Yara Marine’s start-up accelerator program, Yara Marine X (YMX), has drawn to a close. The winner of this edition, EyeGauge, has concluded the tailored 3-month program during which Yara Marine Technologies and its network offered mentorship and skill-building opportunities to assist with commercializing their product.

This offers a valuable opportunity to reflect on the process and solicit feedback from the various stakeholders involved.

eyeGauge

Rodion Denisyuk, Founder and CEO, Anton Zakharov, Co-Founder and Business Development, Viktoriia Kobenko, Co-Founder and CTO.

Could you share your experiences that you’ve had during the YMX accelerator program with us?

We had a great experience participating in Yara Marine’s start-up accelerator program, Yara Marine X. It started with the bootcamp, hosted by Yara Marine in Sweden and Norway, followed by regular online workshop meetings and progress follow-ups.

The program was well-managed and filled with a vast amount of information. During the process, we had the opportunity to meet various stakeholders from different departments of the company, giving us a reasonable overview of how well-established maritime technology companies operate and manage their business.

With only three months to gain knowledge and experience, we often found ourselves resolving one set of questions only to find these raised new points for discussion down the line. As a result, we are still learning and evolving even as the program draws to a close.

We are pleased that Yara Marine X have offered to keep in contact and hope to keep them informed about our progress in case any opportunities for collaboration arise in the future.

Are there key learnings you feel were particularly invaluable?

We received a great deal of valuable information across the board. However, the tangible feedback from the Business Development and Research & Development departments about navigating the industry and its processes really stood out.

We also learned how to create and implement a fundraising strategy from Oslo Venture Company. This was supported by information we received through The Brand Project, which introduced us to the role and importance of strategy in building a brand from its earliest stages to a fully developed product.

Would you recommend other start-ups collaborate with bigger technology providers such as Yara Marine Technologies?

Yes, we definitely would. Collaboration of this nature offers an early market advantage, allowing us to gain insights from industry insider knowledge that allows us to navigate the sector and avoid pitfalls common to younger technology companies.

What’s next on eyeGauge’s agenda?

We are proud to announce that we have already signed eight global accounts, with further major maritime customers in our pipeline.

We are currently working to secure seed funding and plan to have this in place by the end of the year – a process greatly assisted by the information we received during the YMX accelerator program.

Yara Marine Technologies

Per Bjärkby, CTO.

Why did Yara Marine Technologies decide to launch the Yara Marine X accelerator program? What role do you see start-ups playing in the journey to decarbonization?

Our industry is rapidly evolving as we race to achieve our decarbonization targets by 2030 and 2050. To meet this challenge, we need innovation and creative solutions that either result in new technology or work to adapt existing technology to new purposes.

While many start-ups meet these criteria, they often find roadblocks hampering their entry into maritime markets – and this is particularly the case for technology start-ups in maritime where caution is the norm for the industry. This means they often find it hard to enter the market, losing the chance to demonstrate their worth to the sector while shipping misses out on the opportunity to implement green technologies that meet decarbonization needs. These losses may significantly impact our ability to meet Net Zero goals.

Given our understanding of the situation, we felt compelled to help bridge this gap via our start-up accelerator program, Yara Marine X (YMX). Yara Marine Technologies has a well-established history of working with multiple clean technologies and is known for a genuine commitment to fighting climate change. Our support and industry knowledge would enable start-ups to rapidly accelerate the market readiness of their products while benefiting from our portfolio of collaborators and stakeholders.

What makes eyeGauge an important player in the future of the maritime industry?

New regulations like the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) require ship owners and operators to evaluate existing fleets. These regulations are likely to be a bridge to future regulations intended to achieve greener industry operations. Financial and environmental sustainability will be key to this process, and ship owners and operators will find it unsustainable to discard vessels before the traditional end of their lifecycle while still meeting targets for an expanding global supply chain.

In order for shipping to comply with these regulations and prepare for the future, we need to explore a variety of approaches. These can range from newbuilds that can accommodate future fuels and green technologies to retrofits on older vessels that allow them to operate in a more clean and compliant manner.

Digitization has taken on an essential role in this transition as operators will need to gather and analyze vessel data to ensure year on year CII compliance, while others may need it to streamline operations for heightened efficiency. However, vessels may find it difficult to gather this essential data as this was not an intended parameter at the time of their construction.

eyeGuage fills this gap, using their technology solution to digitally connect equipment to new data gathering mechanisms, enabling affordable, rapid data gathering that would otherwise be unavailable onboard older vessels. This solution will allow ship owners and operators who are unable to upgrade their existing fleets a reasonable means by which to streamline operations and gain efficiencies that will lead to overall lower emissions.

Do you have any advice for eyeGauge and other startups in the marine business?

While start-ups may offer quality green solutions, many will find it difficult to scale up their offerings to successfully enter the market. Some may find they lack knowledge of the maritime sector, while others may find it difficult to scale up to meet demand due to complex supply and production requirements. Additionally, it is difficult to secure long-term investment for product development in a marine setting as a start-up, and the market often desires existing evidence that demonstrates the efficiency of their products.

Collaboration therefore becomes key to rapid market expansion. With this in mind, I have two key pieces of advice:

  1. Be relevant and flexible as it is crucial to correctly identify a potential challenge and demonstrate the value of a solution for future customers. Once this is established, flexibility is key as shipping is a rapidly changing market and constant improvement is essential to retain market relevance and offer real value to the industry.
  2. Be agile and trustworthy in order to build strong relationships with customers and collaborators. For customers to trust you to resolve challenges, they first need to trust that you will understand their values and requirements for operation. As shipping continues to evolve, it is good practice to ensure that you are listening to your customers and their needs so that your product anticipates their needs, allowing you to adapt and persist in the industry.

The Brand Project

Jesper Kreiborg, Partner, Venture & Strategy.

What do you think eyeGauge offers the maritime industry?

First, I believe eyeGauge has a promising future ahead of them because they are an extremely talented, professional, and dedicated team. But at the core, their unique approach may resolve a significant pain point for ship owners and operators seeking to access digitization but hampered by old or inaccessible software. The fact that this solution is cost and time efficient is a real benefit, as it will allow vessels to continue to operate in compliance with industry standards throughout the remainder of their lifecycle. This benefits global goals for sustainability – as scrapping a significant portion of the global fleet early in their life cycle will take a toll on our environment – while also supporting ship owners and operators who cannot otherwise participate in the industry’s green revolution.

What advice would you offer start-ups like eyeGauge?

As a baseline, a start-up needs a strong, passionate and complementary team on top of having a solid business model and go-to-market plan. These things will prove extremely valuable when approaching potential clients and partners, as well as investors. In addition to this, it is important to create a brand strategy that establishes who you are as a company, what you stand for, and the unique value you bring to the table. And then be able to communicate this in simple and clear terms.

What benefits do accelerator programs like YMX offer start-ups?

Accelerator programs offer start-ups a unique opportunity to get insider access to knowledge and technology competence, networking, and possible funding. The opportunity to meet other founders in a similar situation also allows for knowledge sharing and future collaboration.

Start-ups require certain overall components such as the identification of a problem, a unique solution, a clear business model, a plan on how to go to market, and an investment strategy to be firmly in place before market entry. An accelerator allows start-ups to test these factors in a friendly environment, allowing them to be assessed from more than one business perspective.

There are a number of different accelerators available to start-ups that typically focus on one or more of these foundational aspects, so my advice would be to enroll in more than one of them for greater value.