Shipnext secures substantial Belgian grant to boost AI in shipping


Leading online cargo platform Shipnext has secured a substantial, multi-year grant from Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) to strengthen the adoption of predictive analytics and AI in the supply chain.

A dedicated team based at Shipnext’s headquarters in Antwerp – Europe’s second largest port – will now embark on an ambitious project to develop a supply chain volatility forecast, helping the platform’s users to understand likely transportation costs several weeks in advance, as well as anticipated demand for shipping assets.

A new algorithm will be created, making use of various freight matrices and a range of data sources for specialised commodity trade-related analytics. The project, initially designed for users shipping commodities such as steel, coal, chemicals and agricultural products, will utilise natural language processing, machine learning, big-data analysis and predictive analytics.

Shipnext, which has around 3,500 daily users including brokers, traders, shippers, forwarding companies and carriers, will receive an initial grant of €400,000 in the coming months. Over the next five years, further funding will be provided by VLAIO, which aims to stimulate entrepreneurship in the Flanders region by supporting innovative businesses with financial subsidies.

“Back in 2016, Shipnext saw that the shipping industry was drowning in emails – it was obvious that processing freight requests manually could not go on forever,” said Alexander Varvarenko, founder and CEO of Shipnext.

“For that reason, we embarked on a digital transition for the shipping business. First, we patented the process of extracting cargo, fleet and shipping data from emails using digital algorithms and AI-driven technology in order to facilitate instant freight-matching and automation of workflows.

“Thanks to VLAIO support, we will now be able to take our offering to the next-level – helping users accurately anticipate freight rates and demand for ships ahead of time. The culmination of our project will be a highly accurate forecast of freight market volatility, thereby leading to more sustainable supply chains, both in Europe and internationally.”

Shipnext provides shipping solutions and intelligence for customers with breakbulk, dry bulk, wet bulk, heavy and oversized cargoes.