NERA launches program to boost SMEs in the energy supply chain


Thursday, 10 June, 2021


NERA launches program to boost SMEs in the energy supply chain

A new, open innovation challenge program has been launched today to help boost SMEs in the energy resources supply chain.

GeneratER has been established by NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) — an independent, federally funded NFP working to support Australia’s energy transition — and offers SMEs (including those currently outside of the sector) the opportunity to capture a greater share of the multi-billion-dollar spend in the energy resources supply chain.

While Australia is home to a large and dynamic energy resources supply chain — comprising thousands of companies and worth many billions of dollars — Australian suppliers capture a smaller share of both domestic and export markets compared to their global peers.

This is especially evidenced in the more complex segments of the market and is largely due to the relative immaturity of the Australian supply chain and established relationships with global partners.

GeneratER has been custom designed to address these barriers and help move Australian SMEs up the supply chain through driving innovation and productivity, while simultaneously growing local businesses and jobs.

The WA Minister for State Development, Roger Cook, welcomed the launch of the program in Western Australia, which will be followed by challenges to be rolled out nationally.

“GeneratER is a priority initiative for the Western Australian Government’s LNG Jobs Taskforce,” he said. “Announced by the Premier in 2018, the taskforce brings together industry, government and unions with the shared vision of establishing the state as a global LNG hub, creating opportunities for innovation, investment and new jobs in the industry.

“The Western Australian Government is partnering with NERA to deliver the GeneratER program, which will help SMEs from across WA connect with the energy supply chain, demonstrate local solutions to industry challenges and maximise opportunities for collaboration and innovation.”

NERA CEO Miranda Taylor said this initiative offers huge potential if the supply chain can be supported to mature and develop.

“With a strong focus on manufacturing solutions that will decarbonise, digitise and diversify the energy sector supply chain, GeneratER will help stimulate the supply chain in the sector by identifying a small number of business or operational challenges that will be open to SMEs that can manufacture or provide technological solutions for piloting,” she said. “Our own research has demonstrated that stronger, local supplier capabilities in the oil and gas supply chain could capture an additional $7 billion of value by 2030, generating up to $49 billion to the economy.”

A NERA report from 2020 found local suppliers could increase their share of the multi-billion-dollar spend in the domestic oil and gas supply chain if they can unlock commercial opportunities for innovative solutions.

Taylor said larger operators have responded to these findings and are committed to working with Australian-based suppliers to explore the potential for innovative solutions to local industry challenges.

“The opportunity to pilot some of these solutions will support local SMEs to deliver technology products and services into larger Australian-based energy resource companies, increase the size of the domestic spend and also potentially expand into global supply chains,” she said.

Western Australian round

GeneratER’s WA-based program has seen NERA partner with operators and large contractors in the energy resources sector to identify a range of operational or business challenges and opportunities that, if solved, will contribute to improved efficiency and sustainability and grow local jobs.

“Pilots are an important stage in the innovation process and play a key role in the development and refinement and adoption of new technologies,” Taylor said. “Piloting solutions helps to prove their viability and accelerate uptake in the supply chain.

“And while the initial round is open only to WA-based business, we fully intend for there to be future themed rounds that will run nationally.”

The first partnership challenges of the GeneratER program have been forged with leading energy company Chevron Australia. General Manager Supply Chain Management Tim McCarthy said Chevron is committed to building local capabilities.

“We’re proud of the contribution we make to Australia through investing in our local suppliers,” he said. “The GeneratER platform is an exciting opportunity for Western Australian businesses to showcase their innovative solutions and potentially help us solve some of the world’s most complex energy challenges.”

The first challenges to be launched are:

  1. Provide a simplified ‘test strip’ technique for field operators to confirm mono ethylene glycol (MEG) quality without the need for complex laboratory analysis.
  2. Reduce health and safety risk to personnel through the use of drones certified to fly into hazardous areas to investigate abnormal situations through onboard sensors.
  3. Provide solutions for automated, remotely monitored sensing and data aggregation/tracking for cathodic protection status and system amperage/voltage for oilfield wells on Barrow Island.

Expressions of interest are now open for the Chevron challenges and more information on the program can be found here.

Image: ©stock.adobe.com/au/passarut

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