Startup Profile: Tapiit Live

Established only in 2019 Tapiit live’s rapid disruption of the global maritime industry has already seen it pick up a number of awards including being named ‘Start Up of the Year’ at the recent Maritime UK awards held in Plymouth in November 2020.

Liverpool-headquartered parent company Tapiit Maritime launched Tapiit Live when it saw a gap in the market for online training through live streaming.  It has since provided interactive online training in vital skills for hundreds of seafarers across the world in a year when the coronavirus pandemic has brought home the importance of long-distance learning.

When the pandemic hit in March, Tapiit Maritime which had offered shore-based training though 175 training providers in 45 countries, had to suspend in-person learning due to travel restrictions for seafarers. Tapiit Live was already in the process of adapting to the changing needs of the market, having developed a studio for training broadcasts at the end of 2019 and written course material to be live-streamed.

Tapiit Live aims to bring training to the maritime market in a more accessible way, by broadcasting training online to ships at sea as well as to seafarers at home or in office environments. It aims to save shipping companies massive costs in accommodation and travel usually required for training onshore.

In September Tapiit Live announced a major break-through when it struck a deal with satellite communications provider Inmarsat to enable live-streaming to around 10,000 ships. The deal marked a huge change in the industry as live-stream training at sea was considered by many to be 10 years in the future because of high cost of internet bandwidth required for live-streaming. The deal enables live-streaming over Inmarsat’s high-speed broadband service Fleet Xpress and is available 24-hours-a-day, through a worldwide dedicated on-demand service that will eliminate any fluctuations with the connection.

One of the developments has been its ‘Ship Shape’ wellbeing programme which is live-streamed to gyms and messes onboard vessels and delivered by clinical psychologist Dr Rachel Glynn-Williams, from Liverpool-based Seaways Psychology Services. The need to safeguard seafarer wellbeing has been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic, which has created a crew-change crisis that has left as many as 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea with a further 400,000 ashore waiting to relieve them, often waiting with little or no pay.

Tapiit Live CEO Richard Turner, a former seafarer and managing director at Shell Ship Management, said: “Life at sea can be challenging at any time, but the coronavirus crisis has exacerbated these issues, putting seafarers under huge pressure. Ship Shape has been developed to focus on their mental health, providing them with all the tools they need to cope with the daily stresses of their jobs and the current situation.

“Seafarers often live in cramped conditions, which we know can impact on their mental wellbeing, so the main point of the course is to get people out of their cabins and into mess rooms where they can interact and engage with the course material together.”

Tapiit Live is also pioneering other mental health courses for the industry such as anti-bullying and harassment and, at the end of the year, the business will broadcast interactive church services. The live-stream religious services have been set up along with church leaders in the Philippines. This will be a milestone for seafarers as “the live streaming will allow them to see their family at the services, who they may not have seen for many weeks”, said Turner.

Tapiit is already working with the Isle of ManRegistry on a cadet well being training programme and will be offering courses to all levels of crew. The live-stream courses are much more than a video call, with the aim of being interactive to give seafarers the same experience they would get in a classroom. While COVID-19 has not prompted the developments for online learning, it has revealed the need for such innovations and accelerated their take-up.

Over recent years, maritime companies have started to invest more in online learning, with 90 per cent of the market now taking this option due to reduced costs and ease of access. Turner said that Tapiit Live’s live-streaming courses, where a trainer delivers material as if they were face-to-face, sets it apart from e-learning programmes.

“You get more out of interactive learning and we are able to provide courses at the cost of e-learning,” he said. “There is a massive difference between interactivity and video e-learning. Live training gives the same impact as having the teacher in front of you, enabling you to ask questions and be challenged.”

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