The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has launched BrentPlus, a series of initiatives that will stimulate innovations in the oil and gas industry and ancillary sectors to create a platform for local creation of digital technologies.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Simbi Kesiye Wabote, unveiled BrentPlus during a webinar titled: “Innovating for the future of Nigeria’s oil & gas industry and its linkage sectors.”
He added that one of the strategic initiatives under the Nigerian content 10-year roadmap is to promote the development of innovative in-country solutions in the oil and gas industry.
The webinar was the first by the board since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and according to Wabote, it will form part of the new channels and technologies NCDMB will be using henceforth to engage stakeholders of the oil and gas industry.
He listed the processes of BrentPlus to include problems definition, call for innovation, Nigerian oil and gas technology hackathon, incubation and scale-up.
Providing details of the problems definition stage, the Executive Secretary said the board will administer surveys to focus groups and stakeholders to understand the biggest challenges facing the sector. He promised that the board will soon hold a Webinar to get feedback on the opportunities for digital innovation.
“The problems must not be related to the oil and gas sector. It can be daily life problems,” he clarified.
Subsequently, NCDMB will pick out the biggest challenges and call for innovations from interested teams with ideas, prototypes, solutions and relevant experiences, after which, the applications will be reviewed by judges and shortlisted, with a few selected.
He stated that the third stage of the BrentPlus process will be a hackathon a three-day residential camp where “participating teams will meet with industry stakeholders and further understand the challenges. Teams will revalidate their solutions and pitch at the end of bootcamp. Five winning teams will be selected.”
Wabote explained further that hackathon enables crowd sourcing of digital innovations that will solve challenges. “The idea is to provide a platform for individuals to get together for a short period of time to collaborate on a project,” he added.
He hinted that during the incubation, which is the fourth stage of the process, “five winning teams will get $10,000 equity-free grant each. They will also get work-space, expert mentors, global partners and unprecedented market access over three-months, ensuring they become commercial and investor-ready.”
He added that: “at the end of the incubation, the teams will participate in a showcase day to demonstrate their progress. This showcase will aim to connect them with investors and industry stakeholders where they can further amplify their market access.”
Specifying the criteria for eligibility, the Executive Secretary said participants “must be a team/company of at least two or more members with at least 75 per cent of the founding team as Nigerians. The team/company must be a registered, or intending to register as a profit/business entity. The solution described in response to the challenge must be driven by digital technology software, hardware or both.”
Other conditions include that “the solution must either be at idea stage, prototype level or a launched solution that has not gained commercial traction. The team must be available to participate in a three-day hackathon as well as a three-month incubation, if selected.”
The NCDMB boss solicited for industry’s collaboration and support in helping to understand most pressing challenges and provide datasets that can be useful for the innovators. He also called for mentors who will help and guide the teams at the stages of hackathon and incubation and serve as advisors to incubated teams.
He also sought partners who will provide additional incentives for participating teams to make the project bigger as well as host and showcase participating teams at their events.
Lastly, he requested industry assistance in facilitating access to market, particularly to operational facilities for rapid product validation and participation in demos and potential to invest in promising start-ups.
Responding to a question from the audience, the Executive Secretary assured that prototypes from the programme will not be abandoned. “We will see it end to end and put in place plans for continuity,” he promised.
On concerns that the introduction of more sophisticated technology by the oil industry could lead to job losses, he insisted that technological advancements had always created more jobs opportunities around the world, especially for persons who are willing to innovate and acquire relevant skills.
He said the outbreak of COVID-19 had made it imperative for organisations and individuals to adopt technology and innovation to stay afloat.
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