Tsao family’s shipping business turns to venture capital in search of fresh ideas

The Business Times

Maritime companies constantly think of ways to reduce their hefty fuel costs. It’s a complex matter — fuel consumption is affected by weather, the route, vessel age, the cargo, and how well the hull is maintained.

Yet, technology could make this issue one of the lowest hanging fruits in a list of problems to solve.

As the maritime sector grapples with inefficiencies, the potential for innovation is enough to nudge a 55-year-old Singapore-based shipping group into the world of startup investments.

IMC Group, founded by late shipping magnate Frank Tsao, has launched a corporate venture capital (VC) arm under its maritime and logistics unit.

IMC Ventures will invest in pre-Series A and Series B startups with a focus on environmental sustainability and social impact.

Startups will get access to IMC’s network of clients and operational expertise, said Mr Ong, who was previously partner at supply chain company YCH Group’s corporate venture arm.

IMC Ventures has also invested in global VC iGlobe Partners and Singapore-based Quest Ventures to increase its tech exposure. It is currently doing due diligence on a US-based fund.

The venture arm will focus on technology in the key areas of data analytics, green shipping, capacity and route optimisation, and cost savings and vessel performance.

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