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UPS and AstroLabs host Smart Logistics Challenge in Dubai


To engage with the global start-up community ahead of International Small and Medium Business (SMB) Day, UPS partnered with AstroLabs, a capability building company committed to developing the digital ecosystem in the MENA region.

Together, the two organisations hosted the Smart Logistics Challenge in Dubai, UAE, inviting start-ups and entrepreneurs from across the world to present innovative solutions that can help solve the industry’s critical challenges.

Held virtually, the aim of the challenge was to create an ecosystem that enables the identification and nurturing of an emerging technology, helping solve a specific local and regional market need.

The challenge reached 45,000 start-ups from across the globe, with 50 tech hubs and over 10 partner networks activated.

Around 96 start-ups, from 29 countries, were then filtered to participate, of which seven were short-listed and mentored to present their game-changing solutions during the event in April.

“Innovation is a core part of our purpose at UPS and the Smart Logistics Challenge enabled us to demonstrate this further as we worked with entrepreneurs and start-ups to come up with unique ways to solve industry challenges,” said Alan Williams, UPS vice president for Expo 2020 Dubai.

“We see many opportunities to continuously improve our digital experience, especially for small business as we are making it much easier for them to connect, ship internationally and scale their operations to meet customer needs.  In the days ahead, we look forward to sharing our expertise and insights with the participants to help enhance their offering, in turn creating a powerful force that moves the world forward.”

The event drew a range of solutions, offering a more connected customer experience, last-mile optimisation, automated correction of delivery addresses, address geocoding, use of blockchain solutions for customs compliance and many more.

The joint winners of the Smart Logistics Challenge include:

Digital street-addressing and door numbering (DDN): The solution was presented by Zippr, a location-intelligence company, with a focus on addressing technologies to solve problems for citizens, businesses, and governments in emerging markets. Zippr have been awarded an opportunity to pilot their DDN solution this year.

“The pilot opportunity with UPS is a testament to our unique approach to solve the problem of unstructured addresses globally and an acknowledgement of our fundamental vision of making smart-street addresses ubiquitous as an infrastructure for the digital age,” said Parikshith Reddy, Zippr co-founder. “We absolutely loved the interaction with the AstroLabs team and the UPS leadership team.”

IoT platform for logistics and supply chain: The solution was provided by KoiReader, a global award winning FreightTech100 product company with deep maritime, logistics, trade, and supply chain industry expertise.

KoiReader’s template-less AI technology reads and understands documents like humans do, processing any document format on day zero and self-learning every 48 hours based on operational inputs.

UPS has awarded the US-based start-up with a collaborative thought leadership session around the Expo2020 Dubai event to showcase how its technology can help UPS Freight Forwarding and customs process faster.

Ashutosh Prasad, Founder & CEO at KoiReader said, “The UPS Smart Logistics Challenge win is a vindication of our innovation, and we are truly thankful and humbled by the recognition from UPS leadership. In line with UPS’s strategic initiative of “Better not bigger,” we look forward to work with them to make the Freight Forwarding and Customs process faster and exponentially better.

“The future of order-to-cash process is Autonomous. And there is no better opportunity than EXPO 2020 Dubai where we would showcase our innovation to the world in partnership with a global logistics leader like UPS.”

Other shortlisted start-ups included LogiNext, Quincus, Vector.ai, Locus and Route4Me.

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