An app to improve the lives of isolated mine workers, turning plastic waste into diesel fuel, a one-handed drone controller and ‘twinning’ physical assets with digital platforms are just a few of the exciting new concepts initiated by female business founders who are learning how to market and grow their companies in the energy and resources sector.
The projects are among those carried out by seven participants in the CORE Sprint pre-accelerator program who have benefited from connecting with mentors, investors and advisors to take their business to the next level.
The dedicated business growth program is for female founders of resources and energy business who are interested in exploring new opportunities, testing new strategies and creating new pathways to accelerate growth.
The program, CORE Sprint, is run by Australia’s first collaboration and innovation hub focussed on the resources industry, CORE Innovation Hub, with support from Plus Eight.
Plus Eight was launched in 2016 by WA’s leading technology hub, Spacecubed, as a seed-funded accelerator program helping local startups go global.
Backed by BetterLabs, Hawaiian and other major players, it has invested more than $1.5m in 20 start-ups.
CORE Innovation National Hub Manager Renee Hakendorf said the program would give women in the resources industry support to take their ideas and innovations to a wider audience, including an opportunity to pitch their plans to an industry panel.
“The women chosen for the first round are being supported to explore new opportunities within the sector, test new strategies and create new pathways to accelerate growth,” Ms Hakendorf said.
WA-based participant Erin Bell, from Camp Connect, is developing an enterprise software and mobile application for remote mining, resources and construction accommodation sites.
It provides access to essential site, accommodation, mental health and wellbeing information, coordination of sports and social events, emergency response, GPS mapping, and travel management to create the ultimate worker experience.
“Mining sites can be very isolating and the industry has some of the highest rates of mental illness and employee turnover. It’s an entirely different way of living, which is why building friendships and work connections is so important,” Erin said.
“We created Camp Connect to provide a simple solution to the issues of communication, employee engagement, emergency management and mental health awareness.
“This is part of solving the issue of communication between office and ‘non-desk’ employees on a mine site.
“We are currently focused on locking in a foundation partner to trial our software in a large-scale, on-site environment.”
Vanessa and her business partners have started working with the energy and resources sector to trial their solution which, compared with current methods, extracts a greater proportion of precious and other metals more quickly and cost-effectively, and is non-toxic.
“The potential positive implications for both extraction efficiency and the environment are substantial,” she said.
“We kept seeing amazing innovations coming down the pipeline which we thought had the potential to ‘turn the dial’ on tackling sustainability, so we decided to roll up our sleeves and play our part in ensuring these come to market.”
Vanessa’s company also turns other things that are currently considered to be ‘waste’ into new revenue streams – hence her company name, Trashd.
They produce various fuels such as diesel from plastic waste, which can be generated on-demand and go straight into existing engines. As well, they’re turning agriculture crop residue, green waste and coffee residue into compostable products, which can replace single use or short life plastics.
Digital Twinning Australia uses the latest technologies, commonly found in every organisation, to create a synchronised digital twin or operating replica of physical assets.
This type of digital twinning can be applied across the mining, energy, construction, infrastructure and education sectors, or any sector that has critical assets.
“The company began when I realised our Platforms as a Service (PaaS) meaningfully engaged people with their asset data, enabling them to modernise themselves, their assets and their business,” Genene said.
“I’m looking forward to pitching to investors. In every meeting with new people – private or public sector – there’s a moment when the arms unfold, the shoulders lift, the body moves forward, eyes light up, the face smiles and they say ‘I get it!’. This is our measure of success because without this moment, we have nothing.”
Annette’s company Tekuma has developed a one-handed, six-degrees-of-freedom control orb for drones, robots and other devices.
The robust, universal, and intuitive technology reduces the time, cost, personnel, and training to get jobs done.
The technology allows users to intuitively control any device with just two fingers, freeing the other hand to focus on peripherals or control other devices.
“The past four years have been a whirlwind. We’ve gone from problem to prototype, from patents to paying customers, bootstrapping the whole way,” Annette said.
“We’ve completed our first paid trial with UnderSeaROV with underwater rovers, and we’re looking at the accessibility sector to assist people with limited mobility. We’re looking forward to digging deep into the mining and energy sector to see how our technology can make an impact with new applications in this space.”
Hyperspectral Intelligence founder Michelle Tappert, who previously lived in Adelaide and had planned to move back before COVID-19 struck, is based in Canada but her company analyses rocks from around the world, with the internet facilitating operations.
Her HII has developed the geoLOGr hyperspectral rock analyser for the natural resources sector, which is a rock identification system that identifies ore and waste rock with unprecedented accuracy and precision.
Hyperspectral data and digital photos collected by the geoLOGr are uploaded to HII’s cloud engine where data is processed to identify ore and waste rock, ensuring customers derive as much value from their project as possible. The geoLOGr is portable, making it straightforward to deploy in remote locations.
“The geoLOGr hardware has been shipped overseas as air freight numerous times, and all training is now being done remotely,” Dr Tappert said.
“Because there is a cloud component to the geoLOGr software, working in locations with good internet connectivity is always a treat, but it isn’t always necessary.”