Crew Welfare Open Innovation Challenge

Can you help us improve crew safety and welfare?

Startups and SMEs: we need your help to improve life at sea

We are looking for solutions that can improve the safety or welfare of seafarers.

A shortlist of proposed solutions will be put before a jury made up of seafarers and welfare experts.

The best solution will be awarded a £10K GBP cash grant to fund a proof of concept on board a Shell ship.

Thetius challenge partners:

The Thetius Innovation Lab aims to connect world leading maritime businesses with innovators to solve real problems. To improve welfare and safety at sea, we are working in partnership with Inmarsat, the leader in global mobile satellite communication, and Shell. Thousands of vessels rely on Inmarsat’s end-to-end service availability and coverage for operational communications, safety and welfare. Shell Shipping and Maritime manages one of the largest fleets of oil/chemical tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers in the world, all playing a vital role in the safe and secure delivery of energy.

Programme Overview

In partnership with Inmarsat and Shell Shipping and Maritime, we are looking for novel solutions that have the potential to improve crew safety and welfare across four innovation challenge areas spanning deck safety, fatigue reduction, admin reduction, and overall wellbeing.

We are seeking applications for solutions from startups and SMEs who want to conduct a proof of concept onboard a Shell vessel, supported by Inmarsat’s technology. Startups and solution providers who apply to the Innovation Challenge will be required to submit a pitch that details their proposed solution and a proposal for the proof of concept.

From the submitted applications,  a shortlist will be generated, and successful solutions invited to pitch their idea to a decision making jury. The majority of the jury will be made up of serving seafarers, with representatives from Inmarsat, Shell, and the welfare sector also taking part.

The team behind the chosen idea will be awarded a £10,000 GBP cash grant, funded by Inmarsat, to test their idea by implementing a proof of concept onboard a Shell vessel equipped with Inmarsat’s communication and digital capabilities. The cash will be awarded upfront to the winning solution provider, and the winning startup will receive support from Thetius, Shell, and Inmarsat to implement their idea.

The challenges

We are seeking solutions across four challenge areas; improving the safety of deck operations, minimising fatigue on board, reducing administration on board, and improving overall crew welfare.

Deck operations like mooring, anchoring, cargo work, lifeboat drills, enclosed space inspections and maintenance are some of the most dangerous activities undertaken on board. Accidents on deck are one of the leading causes of death and serious injury at sea, with deck ratings the most likely rank to become fatally injured while working.

Dangers of deck operations include being struck by mooring lines or other objects, becoming asphyxiated by entering enclosed spaces, falling overboard, and tripping or falling on deck. All deck operations require ratings and officers to maintain a high level of situational awareness and excellent communication between teams stationed throughout the ship.

We are seeking innovative solutions to improve the safety of deck operations on board. This can include, but is not limited to, solutions that help increase situational awareness, improve communication between teams stationed throughout the ship, or enhance crew training for dangerous operations.

Fatigue is often a major contributing factor to accidents at sea. In a study conducted by the MAIB, fatigue was identified as a contributing factor in 82% of groundings that occur between the hours of 00:00 and 06:00. As well as having an impact on the safety of a vessel, inadequate sleep has been linked by researchers to a significantly increased risk of depression and anxiety in the general population.

As well as sleep, there are other contributing factors to fatigue including stress, diet, and exercise. There are strict regulations for the hours of work and minimum hours of rest for seafarers while on board. Consequently, all crew members need to log and report their own hours of work and rest. Logging and monitoring work hours is a time consuming process, and disruptions to rest hours are difficult to manage and compensate for. As well as managing time off, it is also important to ensure that crew members get adequate sleep during their rest hours.

We are seeking innovative solutions to improve the management of work and rest hours and ensure crew members get adequate sleep. This can include, but is not limited to, solutions that reduce the manual administration involved in logging and reporting of work hours, help manage and plan for disruptions to watch patterns, or help crew members manage the contributing factors to fatigue while maintaining their privacy.

In recent decades, the volume of paperwork that a ship’s deck and engine crew are required to complete has grown significantly. As a minimum standard, ships must carry and maintain more than 70 different certificates, documents, and plans that are required by IMO regulations. Additionally, crew members must maintain their own personal records, including certificates of competency, training records, discharge records, visas, vaccines, and continuing professional development.

Many of these records are created manually and kept on paper rather than digitally. This administrative burden often means crew members have to work long hours outside of their watchkeeping duties to keep up. Additionally, the rise of COVID-19 has made it incredibly difficult for surveyors to get access to ships to carry out audits.

We are seeking innovative solutions to reduce the administration requirements for ships’ crews while maintaining an audit trail that can be accessed and verified remotely. This can include, but is not limited to, solutions that reduce the need to maintain paper logs and records, speed up recording equipment inspections, or automate record and certificate keeping processes.

The world’s 1.6million seafarers are at the forefront of world trade, often spending months away from home at a time, living and working in difficult conditions.

There is evidence of an increase in recent-onset anxiety and depression among serving seafarers, and in some roles, seafarers may be particularly prone to emotional exhaustion and burnout. As well as mental wellbeing, physical and social wellbeing at sea are critically important. After accidents, heart problems are the leading cause of death at sea and isolation and loneliness at sea has been shown to predispose seafarers to mental health problems.

In addition to the normal welfare requirements of modern seafarers, the rise of COVID-19 has made it incredibly difficult to repatriate seafarers who have reached the end of their contracts, and made it impossible for seafarers to get shore leave and access regular welfare services while in port.

We are seeking innovative solutions to measure and improve the overall welfare of seafarers on board. This can include, but is not limited to, solutions that capture data on the wellbeing of crew members, enhance remote access to welfare services for seafarers, address bullying and harassment on board, improve mental, physical, or social wellbeing, enable better communication with loved ones at home, or help to facilitate the repatriation of seafarers at the end of their contracts.

Solution requirements

There are specific operational constraints that your solution must be able to work within including remote implementation, limited bandwidth, the need for plug and play hardware, and cost at scale.

  • Remote implementation – Partly due to global travel restrictions, and partly due to operational constraints of the Shell fleet, we are seeking solutions that can be implemented remotely. It will not be possible for any representatives of the solution provider to physically visit the vessel to install equipment, train crew members in its use, or oversee the proof of concept.
  • Efficient bandwidth use – Inmarsat will provide the winning application access to their high-speed Fleet Xpress service at sea onboard the Shell trial vessel. It will also make its digital solutions available including dedicated bandwidth (Fleet Connect) and APIs (Fleet Data) to enhance the capabilities of the winning solution where relevant. However, the solution must be able to operate within the bandwidth constraints that come with satellite communication. The operational bandwidth requirements for the solution should not be more than 1Mbps.
  • Plug and play hardware – Similar to the requirement for remote implementation, we are seeking solutions that do not require extensive hardware installation. Any hardware required for the solution must be small enough to be delivered to the vessel by courier. It must also be possible to quickly install the hardware without any specialist skills, knowledge, or tools.
  • Scalability – We are seeking solutions that, if successful at the proof of concept stage, could be rolled out globally across a large fleet of ships. It must be possible to scale the solution to multiple vessels in a cost-effective way.


  • Applications Open

    We are seeking applications from starutps and SMEs who want to test innovative solutions to our four welfare challenge areas; improving the safety of deck operations, minimising fatigue on board, reducing administration, and improving overall wellbeing.

  • Closing date for entries

    The deadline for solution proposals is 23:00 UTC on the 16th of September. Click here to learn how to apply.

  • Shortlist announced

    Applications will be reviewed by experts in technology and vessel operations from Shell Shipping and Maritime, Inmarsat, and Thetius to assess their suitability for a proof of concept and a shortlist will be announced.

  • Solution pitches

    Shortlisted startups will be invited to pitch their solution via video call to a decision making jury made up of seafarers, welfare experts, and representatives from Shell Shipping and Maritime and Inmarsat.

  • Winner announced

    The decision making jury, led by serving seafarers, will select the solution they believe will have the greatest positive impact on seafarers.

  • Proof of concept begins

    Now the real work begins. The winner will receive a £10,000 cash grant to fund their proof of concept. With the support of Inmarsat and Thetius, the chosen solution provider can begin the work of testing their solution on a Shell Shipping and Maritime vessel.

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 23:00 UTC on the 16th of September. A group of shortlisted proposals will be invited to take part in a virtual event to pitch their solution to a judging panel made up of seafarers and representatives of Inmarsat and Shell. Out of the shortlisted solutions, one will be selected to receive the funding and conduct the proof of concept.

To submit an application, create a pitch deck or proposal document that covers the details listed below, you may also submit a demo video to support your pitch as part of your application. The details of your pitch and proposal will be shared with the challenge partners but not be shared publicly.

  • About you
    • Information about your company
    • Information about the team members behind it and their professional backgrounds.
  • Your challenge and solution
    • What is your solution? (include benefits, unique selling points and pricing)
    • What is your solution’s track record?
    • How does it solve the specific challenge area you are applying for?
  • Your proposal
    • If you are successful, what is your proposal for running a proof of concept to test your solution?
    • How would the £10,000 cash grant support the PoC?
    • How do you plan to leverage Inmarsat’s connectivity and digital solution capabilities?
    • What measures will you put in place to ensure the security and privacy of data used in your solution?
    • What are your expected results? What would a successful trial look like?
  • Solution requirements
    • How does your solution meet the requirements for remote implementation, bandwidth, plug and play hardware, and cost-effectiveness at scale?

Applications have now closed


If you have any queries, concerns or comments, or you would like to ask some questions before applying please get in touch:

By email:

By phone: +44 (0) 208 614 0788

By social: @Thetiustech (DMs open)

Are you sure want to unlock this post?
Unlock left : 0
Are you sure want to cancel subscription?