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TechX Cohort 3: Collective Forces to Drive Innovation

09 July 2020
Written by Stuart MacKinven

Over the last few years in TechX we have seen that user or customer involvement has had a positive impact on the new product development process for our Pioneers who are looking to bring new solutions to market.

In the early stages of a technology business, the founder(s) of the company will typically only have a set of assumptions for how that product will play out in the market. One of the single biggest failings that a new start-up company can have is to plough precious cash reserves into an intensive research and development programme without testing the concept with the market first. So much time and effort can be saved if the founders can gather input from end-customers or consumers from the beginning, enabling the business to be far more productive. This will provide a significant reduction to overall technology and business risk.

With the 2020 TechX Accelerator Programme almost upon us, our Pioneering start-up companies are going to need to embrace the new ‘All Digital’ way of working and maximise the online face time they have with customers. One of the most value-adding aspects of TechX is that we bring the customers direct to the Pioneers. We work collaboratively with over 40 incumbent and established industry players to source the right discipline experts in each technology field so that the Pioneers can accurately test out the assumptions they have on their product. Ordinarily, we would have scheduled in excess of 150 in-person one to one interviews either off-site at company offices or physically at The Oil & Gas Technology Centre (the OGTC). This year, in light of COVID-19, the OGTC’s Technology Accelerator Programme is being delivered entirely virtually for the first time ever. Both Pioneer and industry experts will join forces online to help shape the future of the energy industry, moulding and shaping products that will support the industry’s transition towards net zero.

This new method of working has got me to think about the future state of innovation programmes, accelerators, and TechX more generally. Will we see a rise in entrepreneurs and innovators using digital collaboration platforms to advance their business and technology as standard practice? Or will we see an evolution of the user involvement innovation process? It could be that once we exit from this pandemic, an opportunity for creating the right conditions for entrepreneurs and industry to physically come together in a much more powerful way than ever before will emerge.

Imagine… start-up business founders and discipline experts from industry coming together over an elongated period of time to drive transformational and disruptive product development that ultimately propels the energy transition. Sounds like the future.

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