Startups and SMEs: we need your help to tackle maritime decarbonisation issues

Programme Overview

In partnership with Seaspan, Inmarsat and Lloyd’s Register, we are looking for novel solutions that have the potential to decrease emissions and help the maritime industry on its route to net zero. Four innovation challenge areas spanning, crew safety and training, benchmarking of emissions, real time risk management and carbon capture are being considered. 

We are seeking applications for solutions from startups and SMEs who want to pitch to solve the challenges. With each corporate partner then selecting up to three to go forward for facilitated ideation workshops, to establish a framework for a proof of concept partnership. Startups and solution providers who apply to Thetius:Zero will be required to submit a pitch that details their proposed solution, a project plan for a proof of concept, and an outline for how the solution could be scaled.

From the submitted applications, a shortlist will be generated, and successful solutions invited to pitch their idea to a decision making jury at a physical event in May. The majority of the jury will be made up of corporate partners from Seaspan, Inmarsat, Lloyd’s Register and Thetius. The teams behind the chosen ideas will progress to the next stage and benefit from facilitated workshops focusing on establishing a proof of concept partnership. As well as support from the partners involved throughout the process.

The challenges

We are seeking solutions across four challenge areas; improving crew safety around alternative fuels, tools to benchmark and create lifecycle assessments for vessel emissions, managing the risks presented by alternative fuels in real time and carbon capture.

Challenge 1- Improving crew safety around alternative fuels

Though conventional fuels can be dangerous, they are well understood and crew members usually understand how to use and handle them safely. Handling the wide range of alternative fuels that are going to be needed to successfully decarbonise the industry requires specialist knowledge. Further, some of those fuels are hazardous to human health and crew exposure to them needs to be carefully monitored and limited where possible.

Engineering crew members, particularly engine ratings, face the highest risks from alternative fuels such as ammonia, hydrogen and LNG. The fuel preparation, engine and reliquification rooms have been highlighted as hazardous areas that the crew should avoid where possible. If there is work that must be done in those areas, the crew need to be effectively monitored and they need access to effective training tools to give them the skills to work safely.

We are seeking innovative solutions that can minimise the need for crew to spend time in hazardous areas, monitor the safety of crew members who need to work in dangerous spaces, or provide effective training tools to improve safe working.

Challenge 2- Tools to benchmark and create a lifecycle assessment for vessel emissions

It is currently very difficult to truly understand lifecycle emissions for vessels in a way that can support effective operational and investment decisions. Though a range of measures exist, they do not provide enough detail to effectively assess and support decision making with regards to the future emission impacts of retrofits, energy efficiency measures, scrapping, and new build projects.

Measures like EEXI, EEDI, and CII are useful for providing a baseline understanding of a vessel’s efficiency, but they are not detailed enough and not updated frequently enough to support benchmarking of fleets both inter fleet and wider worldwide fleets. With no two voyages being the same due to a range of external factors including the weather, tides and charterers procedures influencing vessel performance and efficiency. It is difficult to calculate, monitor and understand the potential benefits of energy saving devices to justify financial investments in performance improvement measures, and benchmark tonnage against the wider world fleet.

We are seeking innovative solutions that enable effective benchmarking of a vessel’s performance against the global fleet in granular detail with publicly available or purchasable data sets (such as weather, tides, EU MRV data and AIS information). An understanding of what factors contribute to a vessel’s efficiency throughout its lifecycle to determine valuable insights that can highlight opportunities for improving efficiencies and reducing emissions further. Benchmarking vessels against ships in the same ship type category and benchmarking within subcategories for each ship type should be considered. 

Challenge 3- Managing the risks presented by alternative fuels in real time

The introduction of alternative fuels is fundamental to reaching net zero emissions. Ammonia, LNG, hydrogen and methanol are a few of the options that exist. However these emerging fuel types present new risks to seafarers, port workers, the environment and society as a whole. Flammability and toxicity are major challenges presented by these fuel types.

Despite the risks associated with an ammonia leak, the gas is incredibly difficult to detect in small quantities. Safely using these fuels will require heightened levels of awareness and carriage procedures than those associated with traditional marine fuel types. Regulators, ports, and class will need to create rules for safe handling, but proactive real time monitoring and management of these dynamic risks in a port environment will be critical to supporting safe vessel movements and bunkering operations. These types of systems may already exist in static landside infrastructure such as an ammonia plant. But a port environment is dynamic and constantly changing, with vessel movements, bunkering and cargo operations changing risk levels constantly.

We are seeking innovative solutions that can be used to detect small leaks of alternative fuels, provide real time risk monitoring in a port environment, or enable better decision making in an emergency.

Challenge 4- Carbon Capture

Carbon capture and storage technology is a high potential measure that could be adopted in a short timeframe for cutting CO2 emissions from shipping. But making carbon capture viable and financially feasible in container shipping will require a step change in the efficiency of onboard systems.

Most existing carbon capture systems are relatively inefficient, meaning that they do not capture enough carbon before it is released to the atmosphere. They consume large amounts of energy which can only be generated by burning more fuel. Existing systems also require large amounts of storage space onboard which could otherwise be used to carry containers. Finally, there are no widely available mechanisms for discharging captured carbon ashore.

We are seeking innovative solutions that minimise the space required to store captured carbon, dramatically increasing the rate of capture, reduce the energy consumption of onboard systems, or improve the discharge process.

Solution requirements

There are specific operational constraints that your solution must be able to work within, including the need for plug and play hardware, scalable at cost, strong investment case and suitable for use in a range of environments by a range of stakeholders irrespective of geographical location. 

Plug and play hardware

We are seeking solutions that do not require extensive hardware installation. Any hardware required must also be possible to quickly install the hardware without any specialist skills, knowledge, or tools. Additional workload on the crew is something we are trying to prevent and your solution must be aligned with this.


We are seeking solutions that, if successful at the proof of concept stage, could be rolled out globally across a large fleet of ships, or in a range of port environments. It must be possible to scale the solution to multiple vessels in a cost-effective way.

Strong investment case

We are looking for solutions that provide a compelling argument to potential investors on the desired impact, possible benefits and added value that your solution will bring. It must highlight the financial viability of the solution that is substantially different from the solutions and tools that already exist. 


Any solutions that are pitched for a chosen challenge must be suitable to support use in a range of environments, geographical locations and by a range of stakeholders both onboard and shoreside where appropriate. 

Timeline and how to apply

The deadline for applications is 23:00 UTC on Monday 1st May 2023. A group of shortlisted proposals will be invited to take part in an in person event in London in May. If successful and invited, you or one of your team needs to be able to travel to London on the 23rd and 24th of May to pitch to our corporate partners. The pitches and ideation event will see successful companies invited to pitch their idea to a decision making jury, made up of representatives from our corporate partners from Seaspan, Inmarsat, Lloyd’s Register and Thetius. 

The teams behind the chosen ideas will progress to the next stage and benefit from facilitated workshops focusing on establishing a proof of concept partnership. As well as support from the partners involved throughout the process. 

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 publically.

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?
  • Does your solution have any track record or is it completely new?
  • How does it solve the specific challenge area you are applying for?
  • What do you expect will be the tangible benefits the corporate partners involved in Thetius:Zero? 

Your proposal

  • If you are successful, what is your proposal for running a proof of concept to test your solution?
  • What are your expected results? 
  • What would a successful trial look like?

Solution requirements

  • How does your solution meet the requirements for plug and play hardware and cost effectiveness at scale?

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)

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