Search for 'mix of grey and green' to create high-growth energy firms

The search is one for “a mix of grey and green” industry professionals to create new, highly-scalable businesses in the energy sector.

Grey Matters was started in 2017, targeting professionals with experience of 20 years or more who had been made redundant amid the oil downturn in Aberdeen.

The programme is now seeking applications for its fourth cohort, this time seeking a mix of people with ideas for new start-ups, as well as those with the industry experience to bring them to commercialisation.

The 16-week programme, from Elevator, Scottish Enterprise and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), starts in November and has so far seen 11 new ventures created since its inception.

Programme manager Karen Clark said: “Someone once described it to me as needing someone who had the scars, the contacts, who knew how the sector works.

“That’s the kind of people we want to attract, along with people who are younger and have experience and the beginnings of an idea, but now they need to get a team around them to make that work.

“We refer to that as mixing the grey and the green. The green ideas and the grey, more experienced people that can help pull that together.”

There are 25 fully funded places for the scheme which is seeking people with technical experience along with other backgrounds like finance and strategy.

It will also branch out from just oil and gas to include the wider energy sector as well, such as renewables and assisting the energy transition.

The idea for the mix of “green and grey” came from start-up Intebloc, run by CEO Ross McLeod who met John Kearney, an industry veteran of 40 years, at Elevator’s base at The Hub in Bridge of Don.

Recognising Mr Kearney’s experience, he took him on as chief technology officer of the firm, which specialises in safety technology for crane lifting.

Mr McLeod said: “One of my mentors put me in contact with John, we had a conversation and it just felt right. Since then he has been a real asset.

“What I found as a sole founder is that you’re always busy but you’re never really getting anywhere because you’re trying to take on too much. John’s experience helps bring focus to the business instead of being quite scattered.”

John Kearney (left) first met Ross McLeod while going through the Grey Matters programme at Elevator.

InteBloc’s Rig-Ware software tracks lifting systems to prevent dropped objects, improving safety and preventing lost-time incidents.

The firm initially went through the OGTCs TechX start-up programme and has ambitions to scale-up globally.

Mr Kearney, latterly of Wood Group, said it is a hugely exciting challenge.

He added: “You need the experience of a long period in the industry, but you also need people with ideas and the whole point of Grey Matters is to help you marry those together to create very successful businesses.

“It is exciting, it is new. You don’t often get the chance to start-up a business and doing so is a great opportunity.”

An information session on the programme is being held on September 26.

More information can be found on Elevator’s website.









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