SMASH! is the network for smart shipping. To strengthen the web of our community and our collaboration partners, we give the spotlight to one of the network partners every month. Colleagues give us a look behind the scenes, tell us about interesting developments and about expectations regarding cooperation in the SMASH! community. In this interview we speak with Linda Treuman, manager of the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community (RMSC).
Rotterdam: not just a port
Seven years ago, the Municipality of Rotterdam recalibrated its maritime strategy. “She saw that Rotterdam has a lot to offer in addition to the port: the latest developments, services in the field of insurance, financing, legal and much more,” says Linda. “The problem, however, was that large service providers around the port were too fragmented. Rotterdam is known for its port, but not so much for its maritime services. ‘How do you ensure that Rotterdam earns its place on the map as the ‘Maritime Capital of Europe’?’, the municipality wondered.
In 2015, the municipality therefore wholeheartedly supported the initiative to set up a trade association for maritime business service providers: the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community. A central point where all services outside the skipper’s regular work come together. Accountancy, advice, ship classification, education, insurance, tax advice, legal aid and more. Everything comes together at RMSC.
Strengthen market position
RMSC aims to strengthen the market position of maritime business service providers in the greater Rotterdam region. “We do this by offering extra value to the regional cluster. To maintain and spread our knowledge. Networking internationally and making connections between companies, service providers, governments and knowledge institutions”, explains Linda. “Many people immediately think of London or Singapore when they think of maritime services, but we also have all the expertise in-house in the Netherlands. As a sector, we can be proud of that.”
Linda has been at the helm of RMSC for four years and has worked hard to grow RMSC and increase its membership during that time. Last month RMSC welcomed its 60th member. Linda: “Maritime service providers have a great deal of knowledge of the sector, which means they offer real added value to the sector. Both within the Netherlands and abroad. For example, our members have recently contributed ideas to the NAVIS project, the maritime agenda of the province and the Roadmap Smart Shipping. By bringing in expertise from different perspectives, we give an extra dimension to developments.”
Linda: “Our added value lies mainly in the fact that we are able to quickly bring the right parties together. This accelerates the process and provides a broad perspective on developments. After all, different parties look at the same issue differently, but they do need each other to move forward.” The RMSC therefore regularly organizes knowledge sessions, where networking always plays an important role. “We often organize sessions together with our partners. For example, our members recently attended a session on insuring autonomous ships, organized by the IVR in collaboration with SMASH!. In June we are organizing a young professional trend session with Deltalinks and KPMG, in September with WISTA and in October we are organizing another session with the KNVR.”
“I am more than proud of the growth that RMSC is experiencing,” Linda continues. “It clearly shows the added value of our role in the maritime sector. We do see that services are often only included at the end, while we can also add value at the beginning.” Linda therefore calls on parties to involve RMSC members as early as possible in the process of new developments. “Look at the Autonomous Sailing Technology (F.A.S.T) Fieldlab, for example, which includes Damen Naval. We have been involved from the start by having an insurer and a lawyer take a look at it. The project has already received their grant. The next step is to take a look at how we can help the project further.”
Linda: “At the RMSC we have a lot of knowledge, but we don’t know everything either. That is why we like to join other communities, such as those of SMASH!. While we contribute our knowledge in our service areas, we hope to be kept informed about (technical) developments from the community. We are happy to introduce this into other projects as well. We can learn a lot from each other. Making knowledge available to everyone is extremely important.”
“Of course we all know that you are officially not allowed to sail with an autonomous ship yet. Regulations are not yet sufficient in this regard, but there are possibilities. That is why I think it is important that we all continue to look ahead. Insurers: how do you insure an autonomous ship? Lawyers: who is responsible if something does go wrong? And financial advisors: is it bad if the costs outweigh the benefits?. It is important that we as service providers do not run away from the unknown. There are risks and that creates fear. But we will get there by structurally working together. It is not a question of whether autonomous sailing will come, but when”, concludes Linda.