Business leaders join forces to give oil sector tech and innovation 'heart'

A group of north-east business leaders have joined forces to ensure technology and innovation becomes the heart of Scotland’s oil and gas industry.

The CEOs from pioneering new energy businesses gathered in London to meet potential venture capital investors and share insight and views on how technology could be at the heart of future growth.

Organised by KPMG and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, founders and chief executives from five local companies have committed to be part of the TechX Accelerator programme.

Launched in December 2017, it provides expertise and assistance both as a technology accelerator and incubator for start-ups and fast-growing SMEs looking to enter or grow within the oil and gas industry.

David Millar, technology accelerator director at The Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said it was currently difficult to raise cash at an early stage in Aberdeen.

But he hoped this meeting would help advise investors of what the region had to offer.

He said: “We have a very active capital market in Scotland, but that’s predominantly focused in Edinburgh and Glasgow, so from the north-east of Scotland, in Aberdeen, where we’re based, it’s particularly difficult to engage and raise early stage seed capital, so we’re trying to broaden our network as wide as possible.

“In London there’s a huge amount of capital on offer.

“There are a lot of investors in the city, particularly in the energy and clean tech sector, so to be able to break into that network and have a meeting such as this, with quite a diverse group of investors, is really important for the start-ups, enabling them to build that network themselves.

Rotimi Alabi, founder & CEO of RAB Microfluidics, attended the event.

The entrepreneur’s business has developed a pioneering technique which could enable oil samples from heavy machinery to be analysed on-site, rather than being shipped to onshore laboratories for analysis.

He said: “The oil and gas industry is facing competition from a number of places. You have new energy forms coming in place, including renewables such as solar and wind, and you also have new technology, like battery power.

“With all of these new developments in technology and a changing energy mix, the oil and gas industry can no longer rest on its laurels, if it wants to retain its competitiveness within the energy space.

“To really adapt and identify itself with these new forms of energy, it has to work more collaboratively with entrepreneurs, and fully adopt new technology to enable it to optimise its processes and attain efficiency in its procedures.”

Martin Findlay, office senior partner at KPMG in Aberdeen, added: “At times, it can take a real challenge to a sector, to force businesses to address chronic challenges, and work more closely together to overcome the obstacles.

“The worst of the difficult times appears to be over and our TechX entrepreneurs are a great example of the pioneering new approaches and shining lights that can emerge from a particularly dark period.”

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