Fuel price remains a big factor in business costs, whether you’re running a small retail firm or a big shipping company. With this in mind, Singapore-based startup Ascenz has developed a monitoring system that enables shipping firms to remotely track data on fuel consumption, thereby enabling better efficiency and savings management.
Red Dot Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on providing funding to early-stage high-tech startups in Singapore, has announced that it has invested S$589,000 (US$482,000) into Ascenz. As part of Red Dot’s incubation model, Ascenz will also receive assistance in terms of management, mentorship and market access.
A viable business
Ascenz was founded in 2008 by Sia Teck Chong and Chia Yoong Hui, who started the business based on the opportunity to help ship owners save millions of dollars in fuel expenses amid rising bunker fuel costs. “Since Ascenz started operations, the composition of fuel oil to total operating costs for ship ownershas increased from 25 to 60 percent,” says Mr. Chia “This, together with a global market size ofabout 85,000 ships – including general cargo ships, tankers and bulk carriers, made this business aviable one.”
Using Ascenz’s proprietary software monitoring system, data capture of fuel consumption and bunkering is delivered from moving ships to the onshore control office. The data is then translated into useful information for customers to monitor fuel usage and ensure accurate fuel bunkering. Aside from this, the system sends back informationabout the engines, location of the ship as well as its speed and path of travel, effectively also acting as a locating device for the vessel.
Ascenz has since won the Singapore Minister of Transport’s Innovation Award (Merit) in 2009. The company was likewise one of the finalists for the Technical Innovation Award of the third Seatrade Asia Awards in 2010. In June, the company won the Singapore Emerging Enterprise Awards 2012.
As part of the investment, Red Dot Ventures is also optimistic about Ascenz’ planned expansion into the APAC and EMEA markets. Red Dot Ventures managing director Leslie Loh notes that 70% of the startup’s clients are Singaporean shipping firms. However, there is room for growth outside of Singapore. “Red Dot Ventures will help the company extend its clientele in China, as most ships in the region areassembled there, and also introduce it to the European and Middle-East markets,” Mr. Loh said.