Mirroring a “Silicon Valley” investment ecosystem, India’s logistics technology startups appear to have become a darling of global transport heavyweights looking to enhance efficiency through innovation in supply chains.
The latest shot in the tech collaboration drive was fired by DP World, which handles approximately 25 percent of India’s containerized trade over six terminal concessions across the country. The Dubai-headquartered company last week unveiled an accelerator program — dubbed Log X — in partnership with Invest India and Kerala Startup Mission along with its incubator Startup Reseau.
DP World is looking to invite 10 local startup businesses to participate in the interactive program, which will leverage the benefits of blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, simulators, and the internet of things (IoT) for what it said is the development of smart trade solutions.
“The accelerator program is specially curated for entrepreneurs in the logistics and other associated sectors. The goal is to catalyze Indian entrepreneurs and the start-up community to develop smart trade solutions by leveraging massive opportunities offered by digital technology,” the terminal giant said in a statement to JOC.com. “The finalized startups will be mentored by [the] DP World leadership team and external mentors on-boarded to the program.”
Speaking at a launch event, Rizwan Soomar, CEO and managing director of DP World Subcontinent, said the goal of the collaborative tech development effort is to reduce logistics costs in India, thereby making domestic goods more competitive globally.
“Technology adoption and innovation will play a strong role in building an integrated logistics platform which will offer end-to-end solutions for cargo owners,” Soomar said. “Stronger technology adoption in the logistics sector will also improve transparency, reliability, and predictability in the supply chains across the country. This will be transformative for India.”
Deepak Bagla, head of Invest India — a government agency for investment facilitation — said the the Log X accelerator platform is a unique startup networking and will significantly benefit the country’s logistics sector. His views were echoed by Dr. Saji Gopinath, CEO of Kerala Startup Mission. “Technology today makes it possible to increase productivity across the supply chain and minimize costs and errors. Log X program will help startups working on inland and international transportation and other supply chain solutions with a unique opportunity to scale up," Gopinath said.
DP World deepens landside reach in India
DP World has been searching for options to further cement its presence in India’s economy. In 2017, the company set up a $3 billion funding arrangement with the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) to pursue investment opportunities “beyond the terminal gates” as part of an effort to become a container logistics integrator.
That investment tie-up has seen the company deepen its landside reach in India, propelled by the May 2018 purchase of a 90 percent share in Continental Warehousing Corporation (Nhava Sheva) Ltd. (CWCNSL) and the May 2019 acquisition of a 76 percent stake in Kribhco Infrastructure Ltd. (KRIL), two multimodal logistics entities. Most recently, DP World repositioned its inland logistics center at Hyderabad into a South India multimodal distribution hub.
As cost-conscious customers seek simplified, transparent, and more efficient processes, ocean carriers and other logistics managers are increasingly embracing technology to differentiate themselves in India’s fragmented, but relatively buoyant freight market. Maersk, for example, last year launched its “OceanPro” accelerator under which the carrier signed seven startups in the first stage and five companies in the second edition that took ground in July this year for transformational logistics innovation.
Moreover, as the Indian government works to streamline freight transportation through digital applications for greater efficiency and transparency, it is expected that the development of tech-enabled logistics offerings in the country will find more takers in the coming days. Given that context, the possibility that a new wave of Indian logistics tech startups — supported by global transporters in a new role as “tech-preneurs” — appears imminent.
Bency Mathew can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.