Germany's Schulte Group has launched a new venture capital unit to tap into maritime start-up opportunities.

Innoport aims to support entrepreneurs with "smart capital," it said.

Based in Hamburg, Limassol and Singapore, the team is headed by Yiannis Sykas, director of strategy and product development at Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM).

“At Innoport, we want to build bridges and open doors wherever possible," he said.

"In essence, Innoport provides startups with the right network and the right capital, to scale up their business and to bring their ideas into fruition.”

It is looking for "high-potential" early-stage maritime and logistics start-ups predominantly in Europe and Asia.

Potential pilot projects within BSM, sales partnerships and technical cooperations are some of the options for investment.

Disruptive business models

“Innoport was founded to support early-stage ventures, typically pre-revenue companies at the idea or prototype stage," said Haymon Sinapius, Innoport investment manager for Asia.

"We invest in breakthrough technology and disruptive business models that address a real pain and have the potential to define new standards in their respective industries. We want to see founders who actively challenge the status quo of how the maritime industry works, to make it better, safer and more efficient”,

The company said that typically, venture capital funds operate on a broader investment remit and they often lack intimate knowledge of the industries.

"At Innoport we see ourselves as a provider of capital with industry domain knowledge coupled with access to the right people within our organisation and our network to support the portfolio companies we invest in,” said Niklas Koerner, its investment manager for Europe.

Last year, Schulte Group was revealed to be behind a new fund planning to invest $120m in smaller bulkers and containerships.

The family-run shipping group is the anchor investor in Cyprus-based maritime fund Hanseatic Capital Management (HCM).

It will invest in secondhand handysize and supramax bulk carriers, and container feeders, aged between four and 15 years old.

The first fund, Hanseatic Fund VCIC, plans to “initially” raise $120m.