Bravery needed to lead in tech
The founder and CEO of a WA-based technology company says Australia has the capability to lead the world in oil and gas innovation and technology, but policy change and bravery within the industry are needed to do it.
Jason De Silveira founded specialist robotics company Nexxis in 2014 after decades in the industry. It was an experience which has given him a first-hand appreciation for the challenges faced by SMEs struggling to secure investment in innovation and technology from major companies headquartered overseas.
“Three months after we opened our Houston office, we were attracting interest from companies that we couldn’t get traction within Australia, even though they are operating here,” Mr De Silveira said.
“The decision process and attitude to innovation and risk is very different. We have all the biggest LNG companies in the world operating in Australia, great technology and innovative ideas conceived by experts in the field.
“But our business culture and limited Government incentives mean we tend to wait for innovations to be proven overseas and then replicate them here.
“By the time an innovation is introduced to Australia, it’s been embedded overseas for a decade and is quite often already superseded.”
Mr De Silveira’s company targets the main activity which poses greatest risk to life and livelihood in the industry – inspections conducted in risky environments including heights and confined spaces. The company struck success in Australia and has since grown rapidly, expanding to Singapore and the US.
Its flagship product, the Magneto Inspection Robot (check it out on YouTube here), was originally developed by the CSIRO and was due to be shelved before the Government agency struck a commercialisation deal with Nexxis.
The robot won the 2019 SPRINT Robotics Award for New Innovative Technology in Inspection, Maintenance or Cleaning at an international conference in Rotterdam. Under the ongoing partnership with Data61, which is part of the CSIRO, the hardware is owned by Nexxis and the software developed by the CSIRO. Engineers undergoing graduate training with the CSIRO have the opportunity to work with Nexxis and understand the client focus and commericalisation process which creates a future skills pipeline for robotics.
“This is the first agreement of its kind and could be a new model for commercialisation for Government-backed research and partnerships with industry,” Mr De Silveira said.
Mr De Silveira will be participating in the Future and Innovation presentation in the Industry Supply Forum at the free-to-attend Australasian Oil & Gas (AOG) Exhibition & Conference on Friday, 13 March 2020. The session will be facilitated by National Energy Resources Australia CEO Miranda Taylor.