The University of Southern California, local ports, and the U.S. Department of Commerce have formed a strategic partnership aimed at improving the global competitiveness of the nation’s supply chains.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker signed the agreement Friday at the USC Marshall Center for Global Supply Chain Management’s University Park campus.

The center and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are the alliance members.

“Through this new partnership, we hope to encourage ports around the country to increase efficiency by adopting new technologies that will provide more information on the flow of goods to port users and stakeholders,” Pritzker said in a news release. “The ability to move cargo quickly through our ports is critical to national and regional trade, economic growth, and our nation’s overall competitiveness.”

The partnership in particular will focus on the digitalization of the nation’s supply chains, with its first formal event set for the Nov. 18-20 Port Community IT Systems Exhibition and Technology Challenge at USC. That event will include a symposium on digital innovations for port, trade, and public policy leaders, as well as a technology challenge to develop new port IT applications and solutions with a $15,000 prize for the winning team.

“The Port of Los Angeles will embark upon a project to test the capabilities of advanced digital technology to support efficiency, transparency and reliability in the maritime supply chain,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “We must engage a broad network of experts to succeed and the partnership announced today offers an excellent platform to do that.”

The Center for Global Supply Chain Management at the USC Marshall School of Business has worked with the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach on multi-year research projects to develop efficiencies and solutions for improved cargo flow and environmental sustainability for three years.

For more information and to register for the conference on Nov. 18 and the Hackathon on Nov.19, go to www.uscsupplychain.com/digitalsc.