TechX – Pioneering and accelerating

David Millar, TechX Director at the OGTC
David Millar, TechX Director at the OGTC
Opinion by David Millar

2018 saw us celebrating the successful culmination of The Oil & Gas Technology Centre’s (OGTC) inaugural technology accelerator programme, TechX Pioneers.

In March of this year we whittled down over 125 international applications to just 10 start-ups that met our exacting criteria for enrolling on the first TechX Pioneers programme.

The 16-week intensive accelerator programme, and follow-on 12-month incubator, provides unprecedented access to a host of expert mentors, global partners in the oil and gas industry, unrivalled access to market, and crucially, game-changing funding. Up to £100,000 is available to each start-up without any equity take or pay back. What’s more, the developers retain all intellectual property.

From artificial intelligence-based data analytics, to cutting-edge scientific materials technology, each of the 10 finalists have developed unique and exciting technology offerings. While the majority hailed from the North East of Scotland, two came from London and one from Italy.

Of these 10 companies, 7 have secured 14 different field trial opportunities with major operators in the North Sea – a 70% success rate. An astonishing statistic, considering many of these companies didn’t exist 18 months ago.

Historically, it has taken up to 15 years for some new technology to be accepted by the UK oil and gas industry. Start-ups faced an uphill battle, with unprecedented failure rates in excess of 90%.

However, the downturn has turned that trend on its head. The impact $30/bbl oil prices had on the UK industry and the North East of Scotland is still fresh in our minds. Nonetheless, with 20 billion boe still out there to recover in the UK, we have a huge opportunity ahead of us.

A realisation has dawned within the industry that they have done as much as they can to make themselves as lean as possible.  If they want a further step-change, it has to come from technology and new ways of working. This is where pioneering, cost-effective new technology comes in. New technology which saves the industry money. New technology which helps unlock and recover reserves from increasingly complex wells. In short, new technology which enables the oil and gas industry to do more for less.

With the support of the OGTC and the surrounding supportive ecosystem in the North East of Scotland, the industry is embracing numerous of these early technology opportunities.

Graduates of the OGTC’s first TechX Pioneers programme are already making their mark on the industry, with some of the industry’s key players keen to trial their technological solutions to sector challenges.

One of the TechX Pioneers, Tenzor Geo, has secured offshore trials of its micro seismic technology with BP in the North Sea, starting early in 2019.

Test1, who have developed a unique foam which can soak up oil from spills – so the oil can be recovered, and the foam reused – are carrying out field trials at Aberdeen Harbour.

Blue Gentoo, a firm which has produced a hydrate management tool that could save billions of dollars in reducing the amount of chemicals used to prevent hydrates, has a letter of intent for demonstrations.

Sensalytx, a company developing software to make sense of the vast amounts of data produced by fibre optic downhole sensing systems, has a trial lined up with an independent operator in the North Sea.

Envio, which has developed shipment tracking technology, and RAB-Microfluidics, which has devised an oil conditioning monitoring lab on a chip technology, both have field trials coming up.

In October, hot on the heels of these finalists graduating, we launched the global search for our next group of ground-breaking entrepreneurs.

The TechX team and I have since taken to the road, visiting London, Manchester, Edinburgh as well as our home city of Aberdeen.  We also crossed the Atlantic, holding roadshows in Houston and Boston, in a bid to attract the most innovative tech start-ups from around the world.

2019 is set to be another busy and exciting year for the OGTC’s TechX.  Following applications closing on 31 January, a select group will take part in a finalist bootcamp in February.  The successful applicants who make it through the bootcamp will then be offered a place on the Pioneer programme which will begin in May and run for 16 weeks.

The Pioneers from Cohort 1 are forging ahead with industry trials and market penetration. Cohort 2 is taking shape as we welcome applications from around the world. It’s fair to say that TechX isn’t just another accelerator scheme; it is THE accelerator for oil and gas.

Applications for the OGTC TechX Pioneer programme close on 31 January 2019.

For more information on the programme and support with applying go to https://www.theogtc.com/techx/pioneer-programme/apply-here/

David Millar, Director TechX Programme

The Oil & Gas Technology Centre

 

 

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