Nov 05, 2018People & Industry

Chad Renando on Natural Gas Supporting Australian Entrepreneurs

Chad Renando is director of Startup Status, a not-for-profit that helps communities and organisations support entrepreneurs. Leveraging experience from managing local innovation hubs and mapping the Queensland start-up ecosystem, Startup Status is now on a 12-month Australian research tour to map and measure the impact of the start-up ecosystem on regional Australia.

We spoke to Chad about how the natural gas industry is currently supporting Australian entrepreneurship. This is often visible through programs like the Unearthed Accelerator – a start-up accelerator that connects entrepreneurs and industry customers and mentors – which is sponsored by natural gas company, Origin Energy. He also offered us some insight into the role the industry will continue to play in the future.

How do you feel the gas industry can support entrepreneurship in Australia?

We are seeing more industries open up their challenges and opportunities to entrepreneurs.  The gas industry can engage entrepreneurs in ways to improve operations such as increasing yield, automation, creating value from data, stakeholder relations, and improving safety and compliance. By providing real-world opportunities with commercial outcomes, entrepreneurs can rapidly test and validate ideas, gain access to customers and global networks, and find partnership opportunities with research and early-stage commercialisation.

What role can the gas industry play in the start-up community?

The gas industry can provide problems worth solving and real ways for entrepreneurs to build a business solving them. To this end, we are seeing a maturing of structured programs that provide a link between established industries and start-up and entrepreneur communities. International energy sector examples include the TechX accelerator out of the UK’s Oil & Gas Technology Centre  and Russia’s RVC oil and gas accelerator. Australian examples include Energy Australia’s Startup Bootcamp, the federal METS Ignited program aimed at the mining industry, KPMG’s Energise 2.0 accelerator, the Unearthed accelerator, and the Mining Leaders Group accelerator. Programs like these provide clear challenges, engage the entire supply chain, open up access to new technologies and mentors, and provide pathways for early-stage and scale-up companies.

What would it mean to the start-up community if the gas industry became more invested in hackathons and start-up events?

Industry-led challenges are critical for start-up events.  The best thing for a start-up is to get customers to validate ideas and get feedback early.

Industries also need to be intentional on where and how they engage. Partner with regions, spaces, and programs that have the capability and access to turn ideas into something meaningful. This is not always the metro city centres. Industry can open up networks in regional areas that have the technical experience with the gas industry, and attract diverse technologies such as blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, Internet of Things, and advanced manufacturing to improve business and create local entrepreneurs of global companies.

Finally, the industry can play a role in increasing diversity, particularly in gender representation in technical engineering fields. This can be done by incentivising participation and pathways for under-represented communities, as well as supporting school entrepreneur programs to invest in the pipeline of talent.