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set 12, 2017

The Bahian start-up improving shipping efficiency

Despite advances in technology in recent decades, shipping logistics remain a challenge for many international businesses. But that’s where start-up duo Mateus Lima and Bruno Balbi, from Bahia’s federal university, come into the picture. Although the pair trained in oceanography, their innovation has recently earned them a place under Brazil’s start-up spotlight.

In July, the Brazilian Congress for Industry Innovation, in partnership with the Brazilian Service for Support to Micro- and Small Businesses (Sebrae), published a book with its 22 premier cases in innovation across Brazil. Lima and Balbi’s innovation was enough to land them a place in the book, making them the only Bahians in the book’s remit.

Their innovation is a piece of software, Preamar, which allows ships to maneuver more safely in Brazil’s busy ports by simulating and predicting the behavior of currents, tides, waves, rainfall, density and water temperature, with approximately 95 percent accuracy.

Thanks to their technology, ship waiting time was reduced by 53 percent in the Cotegipe port – an average of 14 days per vessel in Brazil - leading to savings of at least $2 million at a time. Developed with the help of four partners, Preamar uses a Coastal Modeling and Observation System (SOMC) to boost its efficiency.

The system uses public domain data and real-time information collected on-site, plus its own forecasts to assess the risk of vessel maneuvers. It combines this with algorithms that allow an increased operational efficiency regarding vehicle safety in port zones.

By providing an enhanced focus on climate and see information, increasing accuracy from kilometers to meters, and by generating tools for risk management, decision-makers are able to perform their jobs with greater ease, safety and efficiency in Brazil’s ports. Users receive a graph which is updated every 30 minutes, with information including predictions of conditions for the next five days and a risk evaluations for each individual maneuver.

The Brazilian government had hoped to use the technology in helping its coastal cities adapt to a changing climate. The technology, which has its roots in Spain, is set to be implemented along 8,000km of the Brazilian coastline. But Balbi and Lima’s innovation demonstrates that there is more than one use for such technology.

Their new visibility has allowed the pair to begin envisioning the future for their startup, and to plan for expansion. “Being recognized by the CNI and Sebrae is something that makes us realize that we are on the right track, credibility has increased a lot,” Balbi told Brazilian media. “We are using this to our advantage, we have just closed an investment with a venture capital group from São Paulo.”

“We will put the commercial strategy ahead in order to win customers and, from next year, to internationalize the tool,” he continued. “The idea is to conquer the world.”