Two acquisitions at the end of March demonstrate where corporate money is heading to expand maritime adoption of e-learning and e-navigation technology
Ocean Technologies Group has increased its scale and expertise by adding Seattle, US-based Maritime Training Services (MTS) to its growing group of companies.
MTS joins COEX, Seagull Maritime, Tero Marine and Videotel under the private equity-backed umbrella group that invests in advanced maritime training solutions.
Also at the end of March, e-navigation technology provider ChartWorld acquired Vancouver, Canada-headquartered Maritime Services to expand services to North America’s west coast.
These corporate deals highlight where future investment will be heading in maritime digitalisation, somewhat heightened by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Ocean Technologies Group and ChartWorld are betting on growing demand for e-learning technologies as shipping companies increasingly rely on remote training services and e-navigation technology. Both acquisitions also add exposure for the purchasers to markets in North America’s west coast, where the latest maritime technologies are being implemented, such as more advanced training, navigation and hybrid propulsion.
Ocean Technologies Group chief executive Manish Singh said MTS will “add significant expertise in the production of bespoke client-specific training programmes.”
MTS works with blue-chip customers in commercial shipping, maritime administrations, cruise sector and adjacent markets.
Mr Singh expects MTS to increase Ocean Technologies’ footprint in the Americas and across the Pacific. MTS will also help the group increase its technology rollout as it has a diverse range of skills and experience
He told Maritime Optimisation & Communications Ocean Technologies would invest in e-learning technologies such as gamification, micro-learning, virtual and augmented reality, 3D animation and more video content. The MTS acquisition follows the untimely passing of the company’s owner and managing director, Matthew Gasparich, last year.
Meanwhile, ChartWorld acquired Maritime Services to boost its market position in the Americas for its navigation products, ECDIS, electronic charts, digital navigation systems and software as a service. “Now is the right time to strengthen our commitment and on-the-ground presence in this key region,” said ChartWorld chief executive Steven van de Schootbrugge.
“Expanding our presence to the western seaboard time zone allows us to provide fully staffed 24-hour client support when combined with our other global offices.”
ChartWorld claims its e-navigation services are installed on more than 8,350 active vessels and it has over 19,000 subscribed services.
“Our customers can ensure their ECDIS and digital navigation systems are automatically updated and are always compliant with shore-based oversight,” said Mr van de Schootbrugge.
Maritime Services president Shankar Roy expects becoming part of ChartWorld will open new e-navigation technology and services to vessel operators in the Americas.
“Together we can offer our clients an option to replace ECDIS, with a minimal impact on cash flow,” said Mr Roy. “We will tie in flat-fee for electronic navigational charts and digital publications.”
These acquisitions follow mergers in Q4 2019 in e-navigation technologies. UK-based ChartCo merged with Canada-headquartered Marine Press to create OneOcean.
Japanese electronic navigation supplier Cornes Chart Group acquired UK-headquartered Global Navigation Systems (GNS) in a bid to expand its e-navigation offering.
Then in February 2020, UK-headquartered StratumFive acquired US-based weather routeing and analytics company FleetWeather Group to prepare for the next generation of data applications.
With private investors in Ocean Technologies and other maritime digitalisation technology groups willing to invest, there are likely to be more acquisitions in these fields in the future.