By Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Peter Uzoho in Lagos
Five innovative teams have been selected as winners in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Technology (NOGTECH) Hackathon sponsored by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
The teams are Fuel Intellisense, Homefort Energy, Gricd Mote, Kiakia Gas and Airsynq and their projects were picked as the most innovative and bankable by judges, after the 15 semi-finalists made presentations on their innovations.
A statement by the organisation, said the three-day hackathon started with the teams having detailed engagement with industry experts, mentors and entrepreneurs.
Each of the five winning teams was given a cheque of US$10,000 equity-free grant and they would proceed to participate in a 3-month incubation programme during which they will get workspace, expert mentors, global partners and market access to the nation’s oil and gas industry, ensuring they become commercial and investor-ready.
It quoted the Executive Secretary of NCDMB Mr. Simbi Wabote, as announcing at the closing of the programme in Lagos, that the board would support the five firms in their product development phase, drawing from the US$50million Nigerian Content Research & Development Intervention Fund.
The board’s support he said, would go into helping the companies get patents for their innovations and produce prototypes, supporting them to conduct field trials, business start-up as well as provide industry linkages.
He, however, confirmed that the board’s funding would depend on the success of the product incubation phase, stressing that “the goal is to fund bankable businesses, not charities.”
He explained that the sponsorship of the NOGTECH Hackathon was within the board’s mandate, hinting that section 70 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act empowers “The board is to engage in targeted capacity and capability development interventions and conduct studies, research, investigation, workshops and trainings aimed at advancing the development of Nigerian content” he said.
He stated that the board announced the initiative through a webinar it organised in May 2020, during the height of COVID-19 lockdown, because it saw the opportunity to create a platform for local creation of digital technologies to solve problems for the Nigerian society.
The board was also keen to stimulate the participants to channel their intelligence and become successful entrepreneurs, he said.
Wabote counselled the five winning teams to be clear about their vision and strategy and retain their passion, stressing that their motivation should not be on making quick financial gains, rather on innovating solutions, making a difference and contributing to the society.
“All the greatest inventors, particularly in the technology space did not start by looking for money as the objective. They started because they wanted to make a difference and create a change. The prize money is not the key factor. It was meant to bring people together” he said.
“Once you have passion in anything that you do, you will be successful. But once you put money first, you will be chasing money and it will be running away.”
He also advised other participants in the programme to stay committed, passionate and driven by value, stressing that there were many other routes to push their ideas to the market and the real winners are defined by the marketplace.
One of the winning projects was the one that will help fuel stations to get accurate data and avoid loss of revenue through syphoning underground fuel or stealing of fuel from different outlets.
The project proposes to install a system that can be viewed remotely from anywhere, showing how much fuel was dispensed per day and what is left. The system will be installed on existing pumps and tanks.
Another winning project was the one to make cooking gas affordable and accessible to low income families, whereby they can pay for gas using the pay as you go model.
The initiative seeks to help millions of Nigerians, especially the rural poor to switch from using firewood or kerosene to cooking gas.
The third, the company said, would provide cool shade transportation for temperature sensitive items in health sector and the oil and gas space and store them in correct conditions. The product will also provide monitoring for temperature humidity and locations of these items.
General Manager, Capacity Building Division NCDMB, Dr. Ama Ikuru explained that call for entries was made in June in seven thematic areas: health, asset security, tackling cyber threats, renewable energy, skills and talent management and supply chain.
He said that a total of 630 entries were received at the close of submission in the third week of July.
The entries were subjected to two stages of review, first from internal NCDMB Judges and then from external judges, before the top 15 teams were selected for the three-day Hackathon.
He revealed that the board was also working on other projects in support of technology development and innovations in the oil and gas industry.