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German owners invest in ‘Google Search’ for shipping

German owners invest in ‘Google Search’ for shipping
Bojan Lepic April 10, 2024

Berlin-based Flagship Founders has spun off its fifth startup which is developing an AI-powered information retrieval and management platform for the shipping industry.

The company, called Sealenic, has already partnered with three shipping companies – Reederei F. Laeisz, Fairplay Towage, and Harren Ship Management. All of them are already testing the solution in their operational processes.

Their feedback will be used to further develop and optimize the software. A broad market launch of the solution is planned for this summer.

The platform will assist with finding and interpreting information which is daily work for all shipping companies. Teams onboard and ashore must constantly access a wide range of information like safety procedures, checklists, machine manuals, and evolving maritime rules and regulations to safely run vessels.

This information is usually spread across thousands of documents in various formats such as PDF, emails, or paper. Furthermore, information not only has to be found but also interpreted and understood which can be an issue as it is often not optimised and there can be language barriers and different levels of comprehension.

The startup, led by founder and managing director Billel Ridelle, is building a platform that will make it as easy to find information on issues such as HSEQ, safety, and nautical topics as a Google web search.

Sealenic is utilising AI technology and working with large language models such as Open AI to enable users to enter questions into a search mask and receive a comprehensible and reliable answer, including details of the relevant sources of information.

The system is built on general public knowledge – for example, BIMCO, IMO, EU, and state law data – and can ingest private company data and give answers that will prioritize it, ensuring full compliance with company rules.

“Nobody wants to trawl through emails or various documents every day to find important information. AI finally makes this unnecessary. However, the technology must be integrated into a software solution in such a way that its strengths are utilized to the full, while full data security is guaranteed,” Ridelle said.