Innovation Voucher Program

Commercialising innovative solutions to industry challenges

About the project

NERA's Innovation Voucher Program aims to boost competitiveness in the Australian energy resources sector by providing matched funding to eligible SMEs and innovators who have solutions for challenges within Australia’s energy resources sector.

The national Voucher Program is designed to help SMEs and innovators identify and overcome barriers to commercialising new technology, and to develop, modify and/or pilot their product with a potential client. Each recipient receives ongoing advice and support from NERA.

2018 Leap Vouchers

Next-generation robots that operate in dangerous environments, wearable devices that protect staff from workplace injuries and cloud-based supercomputers that can crack complex engineering problems.

These are just some of the innovative Australian technologies being supported through NERA’s 2018 Leap Voucher Program.

Under the program, NERA has provided a total of $200,000 to assist 10 Australian innovators identify and overcome barriers to commercialising their technology.

The successful recipients each received $20,000 (to be matched) and are working with potential industry clients to pilot, test, customise or refine their technology solutions in the energy resources sector.

Chironix Pty Ltd – Husky Explorer Pro Edition Robot

Challenge: Maintenance and operations that underpin Australia’s multi-billion-dollar energy resources sector often involve tasks that put human beings in danger. Despite their critical nature, these roles are performed in extremely hazardous environments and represent time-consuming, expensive and inefficient impact for resource operators.

Solution: Chironix’s Husky Explorer Pro robot will be implemented to eliminate health and safety risks in challenging environments as a holistic technology solution. The robotic system enhances workflow by its improvement of safety as unmanned and autonomous machines. These robots perform challenging or mundane tasks, which then increases productivity for energy resource operators and reduces safety risk in operational, dangerous environments.

A60N Pty Ltd – Subsea deposit management systems (DMS)

Challenge: Subsea oil and gas equipment functionality in Australian waters is frequently compromised by the formation of a variety of marine, sedimentary and calcareous deposits. Overcoming the loss of functionality is a costly and time-consuming process offshore and, over the lifecycle of an asset, can cost operators tens of millions of dollars.

Solution: A60N has developed a range of innovative subsea deposit management systems (DMS) for a variety of critical subsea equipment interfaces. The retrofittable DMSs are designed to inhibit the formation of deposits ensuring no loss of functionality and unplanned intervention costs. The elimination of common offshore problems will improve the economics of future offshore developments in Australia.

Flicq Asia-Pacific – Suite of monitoring sensors

Challenge: Optimising plant performance is a critical factor for Australia’s energy resources sector, and the ability to constantly and precisely monitor the status of essential equipment helps industry remain globally competitive. Across Australia’s LNG industry, anti-surge valves are a key component of LNG plants; however, monitoring the valves has been extremely difficult to do manually given their location within plant infrastructure.

Solution: Flicq will design and deliver a suite of smart sensors that can remotely monitor anti-surge valves on LNG plants, 24/7. Not only will monitoring anti-surge valves be easier and more efficient for operators, these sensors will provide extremely accurate condition monitoring to help prevent failure and, for the first time, allow comparison across multiple LNG facilities. The sensors are expected to deliver major operational efficiencies and have the potential to be distributed across Australia’s LNG industry and into global markets.

Soter Analytics Pty Ltd – SoterSpine

Challenge: Musculoskeletal injuries are the number one injury in industrial workplaces. With obvious consequences for workers themselves, these injuries can cost industry tens of millions of dollars a year and represent a major operational risk for employers. Ensuring the device is intrinsically safe for the oil and gas industry is essential for it to be taken up in that sector.

Solution: Soter Analytics’s SoterSpine is a connected, wearable device clipped to the shirt of a team member that reduces the probability of workplace injury by up to 70%. The SoterSpine identifies and quantifies musculoskeletal risk and gives instant feedback to the wearer. Delivered in the form of an app, the information is used to formulate a unique training program, helping the user to improve their working habits and avoid injuries. Following trials with oil and gas companies, the hardware is required to be guaranteed intrinsically safe if the Soterspine is to be taken up broadly across the industry.

NEXXIS Pty Ltd – Magneto the robotic crawler

Challenge: Successfully completing inspection and maintenance programs on highly complex energy resources structures often means people work in difficult, dangerous and hazardous environments.. The challenge is to make a fundamental improvement in safety for companies and people conducting maintenance work.

Solution: Magneto is a new, leading-edge inspection robot technology that has potential to help industry reduce the risk to human life and greatly improve operational efficiencies across the energy resources sector. In addition to navigating complex confined environments, Magneto also improves the quality of the data being captured. Through dedicated digital features it records all relevant details and importantly feeds this content and information back to the operating teams in real-time.

IRPM Pty Ltd – An alternative method for hydrocarbon subsurface volumetric evaluation

Challenge: For Australia’s oil and gas industry, the current method to determine which drill locations will generate the highest production from the field is based on a method of measuring the probabilities of events occurring. However, this method is based on industry standard stochastic predictions and can be inaccurate, expensive and conceptually biased, costing the industry valuable time and money.

Solution: IRPM Pty Ltd offers an alternative prediction process – one based on science, physics and mathematical relationships. Innovative 3D Reservoir Petrophysical Modelling (iRPM) involves blind testing algorithms against the results from existing well logs to predict new results from wells yet to be drilled, which is a critical step that validates the 3D model. By removing the need for additional well log data to appraise the potential of the discovered field, this method reduces field uncertainty and decreases processing times to 2-4 weeks. Through removing potential inaccuracies, this process can provide faster and more accurate predictions, with the potential to save the industry millions.

Clearview Well Services – Dual Function Tool

Challenge: Subsea safety equipment forms an integral part of offshore energy resource operations, helping to protect the environment, human lives and multi-billion-dollar infrastructure. Despite their importance, the current method used to clean subsea safety equipment (Blow Out Preventer) is a costly and time-consuming task that and can involve many pieces of specialised equipment, multiple tool changes and down hole runs.

Solution: Clearview Well Services identified an opportunity to supply an innovative solution that can greatly boost the efficiency and reduce the costs associated with cleaning subsea equipment. Instead of multiple trips, in just one trip Clearview’s duel function camera tool can survey an area, clean, inspect and pressure test. Completing all of these actions without the need to reset equipment greatly reduces operational down time, keeps potential risks to a minimum and has the potential to deliver substantial cost savings to energy resource operators across Australia.

AiSpanner – Shutdown and safety planning optimisation application

Challenge: For Australia’s energy resources sector, the efficient planning and execution of shutdowns and turnarounds is essential to maintain production and reduce revenue loss. Planned maintenances are vital for performance, reliability and integrity throughout the lifecycle of the plant. Shutdowns constitute the single largest identified maintenance expense, and controlling the costs, duration and safety represents a significant challenge.

Solution: AiSpanner is the Next-Gen of easy to use, datacentric, multidimensional maintenance and safety planning optimisation application, using advance visualisation, analytics and spatial intelligence. The solution uses 1) Data and time as a dimension for safety, task, crane utilisation, scaffolding, staging area and tie-Ins; and 2) Spatial relativity to manage and optimise physical space, avoid conflicts, minimise interference, reduce the risk of health and safety incidents, and remove all wasted motion to improve tooltime. The application aims to systematically plan and optimise the large number of jobs required within the shortest time frame.

Modulr Tech – Intelligent reporting system (IRIS)

Challenge: Much of the reporting in the mining and energy resources industries is done in paper format, which is inefficient, time-consuming and difficult to extract insights from. User error and the inaccurate or incomplete entry of data can have flow-on effects which can adversely impact operational efficiencies.

Solution: To address this issue, Modulr Tech is designing an efficient online intelligent reporting system (IRIS) that streamlines the reporting process and offers real-time insights from these reports. IRIS will allow a user to dynamically create reports, assign them to specific personnel and view analytics to make more informed decisions – all on one easy-to-use online platform. This will allow resources operators greater speed and flexibility to access the data and utilise it to further optimise operational environments.

Subsea Integrity Management Solutions – Oil And Gas Industry Cloud-Based System

Challenge: During the design, construction and operational phases of oil and gas structures, complex engineering analyses that use manual calculations are traditionally labour- and time-intensive. This can include calculations for subsea pipeline and cable fatigue assessments where an inaccurate or incomplete analysis can severely impact safe and efficient operations.

Solution: Subsea Integrity Management Solutions is automating the design and analysis of these assessments by utilising a web-based portal that links engineering companies to online supercomputing. Once the software module is populated, the analysis will take hours rather than weeks to complete. As more data is uploaded to the portal, it will learn and become better at creating more accurate models in the virtual environment. This will help produce less conservative engineering assessments, improve operational safety and reduce operational expenditure for resource operators.

2017 Innovation Vouchers

The recipients of the Innovation Vouchers have proposed solutions for safer operations, digital solutions for personnel mobility as well as applications for drone technology.

Under the inaugural Innovation Voucher Program, NERA awarded $180,000 to inspiring and ground breaking small businesses looking for assistance to enter or succeed within Australia's energy resources supply chain.

Nine Australian SMEs received $20,000 to allow them to deliver an innovative solution to a technical challenge which had limited their customer's ability to maximise their business operations.

Exploration Drill Rigs — Power Drill

Challenge: Under significant upward pressure in onshore oil and gas wells, current workover techniques require two pieces of large additional plant to conduct “snubbing” (downward force on the drill string). This significantly increase the cost of well servicing.

Solution: The Power Drill is an easily transportable module that is connected to existing rigs, setup in 30 minutes and provides the additional drilling support.

Imagine Intelligent Materials — Smart screens

Challenge: Screen reliability and ongoing maintenance causes significant productivity losses and increased operating costs.

Solution: As a result of innovative polymer composite technology, new screens made of graphene-enhanced, fibre-reinforced polymer composites with sensing capabilities are under development. These screens would provide a higher level of structural health monitoring, improved equipment reliability and less downtime through improved maintenance rates.

Kinetic Group Worldwide — Hydrate Membrane Gel

Challenge: Fine tailings content for coal mines tends to stay suspended in tailings water making dewatering a challenge.

Solution: Using a hydrate membrane gel has shown potential to capture fine clays and suspended particles from a water stream. This low-cost solution has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of dewatering coal mine tailings.

Kinyun Australia — Wearable sensor for tracking personnel in underground mines

Challenge: Tracking personnel in underground mines is a workplace health and safety challenge.

Solution: Using current wearable equipment, RFIDs will be fitted to the wearable equipment. The challenge will be to achieve reliable communication within a reasonable range in an underground environment, provide an accurate compliance to WLAN standards to ensure real time location information and overcome space for circuitry and low power consumption.

Project Match Australia Pty Ltd — MyPass

Challenge: Mobilising experienced personnel across businesses and states continues to be an expensive challenge.

Solution: The MyPass system allows workers to upload their personal and compliance information once only (until change or expiry). MyPass removes the administrative burden and system cost for companies requiring access to worker information by synchronising the data in a centralised, secure web-based portal.

Soter Analytics — Wearable sensor for back & musculoskeletal injuries

Challenge: Workplace safety challenges, specifically back and muscular-skeletal injuries account for more than 50 per cent of all injuries.

Solution: The low-cost wearable sensor records at risk body posture movements, compares this to activity levels, and can also measure other environmental risks such as temperature and noise. This information is then fed back to the worker via their own smart device.

Tensa Equipment — Active Heave Compensated Pedestal

Challenge: Helicopters are recognised as a less safe and more costly means of transporting personnel to offshore facilities than vessels. If helicopters are replaced by vessels, transferring personnel from one vessel to another presents a workforce health and safety challenge in larger seastates.

Solution: The Active Heave Compensated Pedestal provides a means to actively heave compensate a lightweight gangway such that it is suitable for deployment on small high speed vessels. The Pedestal virtually eliminates the relative motion between vessels by enabling the gangway on the smaller vessel to match the motion of the larger vessel.

The Innovation Voucher allowed Tensa to work with a potential client to develop and test prototypes that were able to be scaled up to handle much larger loads with a final model commercialised.

Tensa Equipment — Roborigger

Challenge: Moving and orientating heavy equipment can be a workplace health and safety challenge.

Solution: The Roborigger is a battery powered wireless device which uses gyroscopic and inertial forces to accurately rotate and orient loads. This device has a multitude of applications. For example, it eliminates the need for personnel to land and unhook heavy loads, can hold wind turbine blades stationery when they are being attached to the hub of a wind turbine, and assists with pipelaying vessels as pipes are moved across from one vessel to another.

Two years on and the Roborigger has not only been commercialised in the oil and gas sector but can be seen on the construction site of the new WA Museum. To develop their innovation further, Tensa was awarded a Federal Government Innovation Connections grant of $28,395 in 2018 in collaboration with Curtin University.

Verterra Ecological Engineering — Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) for seed dispersal and establishment monitoring on problematic mine rehabilitation areas

Challenge: Achieving consistent positive rehabilitation outcomes on problematic areas of mine sites.

Solution: Using RPAS fitted with a seed and fertiliser spreader along with vegetation assessment cameras will enable seeding and follow up establishment monitoring in traditionally challenging mine rehabilitation areas. These might include areas of steeply sloping ground and where helicopters are prohibited or the risk profile presents a challenge to safety.