About SMASH!

SMASH!, is the Netherlands Forum for Smart Shipping, which brings the Dutch maritime sector together to implement smart shipping and​ strengthen the Dutch international competitive position. SMASH! is an abbreviation for smart shipping: highly automated sailing at sea, in ports and on inland waterways.

In the Netherlands, a large number of organizations and companies are working on smart shipping and developments in the field of autonomous sailing. Currently these initiatives are very fragmented. By working together on a national scale, regional initiatives can be connected and generate a bigger impact. It is also easier to establish international connections. SMASH! brings together companies, government and knowledge institutions to do so.

What is smart shipping 

Innovations in the shipbuilding and shipping sector are evolving rapidly. Driving factors are the improvement of sensors, connectivity and developments in data fusion and analysis. These trends lead to increasing automation and digitization, also in shipping. As a result, shipping can operate more cost-effectively and safely. These developments help to deal with a shrinking and aging workforce of sailing personnel.

The development of smart shipping includes all innovations with regard to complex automated sailing at sea and inland waterways, both on-board of ships and on the waterways.

The cooperation partners

The foundation Nederland Maritiem Land provides the connection between 12 maritime subsectors: ports, offshore, maritime suppliers, shipbuilding, maritime transport, hydraulic engineering, maritime services and knowledge institutes, inland shipping, Royal Navy, yacht construction / water sports industry and fishing. We are committed to good cooperation in the maritime cluster to accelerate innovation. The maritime future starts now.

Top Sector Water & Maritime is subdivided into 3 substantive parts, being Delta Technology, Maritime Technology, and Water Technology. A so-called Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) has been established for each of these 3 themes. These are partnerships between the business community, knowledge institutions and the government. In these TKIs, the partnerships set out the substantive lines along which they work on realizing solutions for societal challenges and achieving a prominent international position. Within the Top Consortium Knowledge & Innovation Maritime (TKI Maritime), government, business and knowledge institute work together to strengthen the competitive position of the maritime sector.

TKI Dinalog’s mission is to prepare the logistics sector for the future. We are working on a sustainable, smart and competitive sector with a broad research program. We cannot and do not do this alone. That is why we have joined the Netherlands Forum Smart Shipping. With this coalition we are convinced that we can accelerate Smart Shipping from the Netherlands.

Ministery I&W is committed to a safe, accessible and liveable Netherlands. That is why the ministry is working on powerful connections by road, rail, water and air. And I&W protects against flooding, ensures the quality of air, water and soil and the realization of a circular economy.

Netherlands Maritime Technology represents the Dutch shipyards and their suppliers. For years, our members have been known for their innovative and technically high-quality products. By working with users to develop new technology, we remain at the forefront of designing and building smart ships, creating a more sustainable and digitized maritime sector.

The Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KVNR) represents its member shipowners based in the Netherlands. The KVNR focuses on policies, government, the maritime cluster and society. The KVNR strives to ensure that Dutch shipowners can operate globally while navigating safely with clean ships operated by skilled crews.

The Expertise and Innovation Center Inland Shipping (EICB) is the center of innovation in the inland shipping sector. From this position, our team is committed to making inland waterway transport even smarter and more sustainable. With our participation in the Netherlands Forum Smart Shipping, we can accelerate this together.

The municipality of Rotterdam is working with its regional partners to strengthen the most complete and innovative maritime region in Europe under the banner “Rotterdam Maritime Capital of Europe”. Sustainability and digitization in shipping and shipbuilding are important spearheads in this respect and these come together in the Netherlands Forum Smart Shipping.

The municipality of Rotterdam is therefore affiliated with the Forum and is helping to accelerate the development and application of autonomous ships in the Rotterdam region, so that our port and shipbuilding can remain at the forefront internationally.

The port will revolve around conventional shipping for many years to come, but smart ships and even autonomous ships will be part of shipping to Rotterdam. We conduct research into the effects of Smart Shipping and digitization on our port, traffic management, people and skills. Collaboration is central to this. Both in the Netherlands and abroad.

Smooth & Safe, Innovative & Durable. These are the strategic spearheads of Port of Amsterdam. Collaboration with stakeholders is necessary to achieve innovative breakthroughs. The Netherlands Forum Smart Shipping makes an essential contribution to this.

Groningen Seaports is committed to safe shipping and economic development in the North of the Netherlands. Preparing the seaports for new technological developments is part of this, for the ports themselves and for the nautical community in the North.

The Maritime Delta program, together with the market, education and authorities, is committed to strengthening the maritime cluster in the South Holland region. We do this on the pillars of energy transition, digitization and human capital. We see smart shipping as an important development for further strengthening the regional maritime cluster.

From InnovationQuarter, as the regional development company of South Holland, we support entrepreneurs in the region. We do this on the basis of our core tasks: investing, internationalizing and innovating. Smart shipping is one of the leading themes within the Maritime & Port sector.

Delft University of Technology is a leader in research into passenger and freight transport. In joint projects with the Researchlab Autonomous Shipping of the university, new concepts for transport over water with social opportunities are being developed (sustainable and efficient transport, safety, economic growth, accessibility, …), also in combination with transport over land and interaction with logistics. processes. The role of technological developments, the interaction with people and organizations and the optimal use of sensor systems, computing power and information sources are central to this.

Smart Shipping is a broad topic with many challenges and it will have a large impact on the Maritime Ecosystem. Addressing these challenges will need a multidisciplinary approach, a long term research view supported by sufficient long term funding and challenging projects. MARIN regards the National Forum Smart Shipping Shipping as an important platform to support in all these challenges.

Why smart shipping? 

The shipping sector is an important sector for the Dutch economy. Around 40% of the transport from the port of Rotterdam to the hinterland takes place by inland vessel. There are challenges in the shipping sector. Other modalities are rapidly taking on a more sustainable character and are catching up or even surpassing shipping emission levels. The inland and short sea shipping sector will have to follow suit but may also grasp the opportunity to reduce transport emissions and congestion by offering a low emission alternative. Smart shipping solutions support the cause of creating a more sustainable transport system and helps address the increasing labor shortage in the sector.

New sensors, connectivity and data aggregation offer a helping hand to meet these challenges. Smart shipping helps to ensure that shipping can operate in a more cost-effective, sustainable and safe manner and, moreover, the smart shipping development is responding to growing shortages of qualified sailing personnel.

About the SMASH!-community  

Co-operation between government and the private parties is necessary to stimulate innovation in smart shipping. Become a member of our community. As a member you stay informed, you will have access to our network and knowledge, you receive a monthly newsletter and you will be welcome at all our meetings.   


Our knowledge of water ways and water systems does not come to us on its own. After all, smart shipping is a trend that is developing world wide. Internationally, we co-operate with a large number of international authorities and government agencies, through our partners.

At this moment, the Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and Waterways (one of the founding partners of the forum) collaborates with Flanders in facilitating experiments with smart shipping on water ways. Also, an international working group has been set up within PIANC on the initiative of the Netherlands and Belgium. The Netherlands Forum Smart Shipping is the Dutch representative within INAS, the International Network for Autonomous Shipping. Through roundtable sessions, seminars and other events organized by SMASH! we transfer knowledge and experience from the smart shipping community to organizations such as the IMO, CCR, and IALA.

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