At COSIA, we’re often asked how we source new ideas from innovators. What we’ve discovered over the last few years of refining our innovator engagement process is that finding technology solutions for COSIA’s innovation priorities is not a one-size-fits-all kind of exercise.
COSIA’s role is to accelerate environmental performance in the oil sands and engaging the innovation community helps us to do that. But before we jump to engagement, we need to look first at the specifics of the innovation we’re seeking and ask ourselves: Do we know what kinds of solutions we are looking to source? And do we know who might be able to provide them?
In some cases, we can’t answer either of those questions because we’re not aware of all the technology that’s being developed around the world in that particular innovation space. In these situations, we usually engage a consultant who is an expert in that technology landscape to scour the world for cutting edge innovation.
We recently completed a land study that’s a good example of this kind of technology scan. A Review of Exploration Tools and Techniques to Support the COSIA Land Challenge: Near Zero Footprint Seismic Exploration looked to identify game changing exploration techniques and technologies that would lead towards zero land disturbance in terms of exploration for in situ projects in the oil sands. The report took a creative, open-minded review of what options might be available to help oil sands operators collect seismic data with a near zero, or zero, footprint in the future.
This innovation priority came about because acquiring seismic data (which is used to guide business investments and decisions) has historically required cutting a network of seismic lines or corridors through the boreal forest to allow for movement of people and equipment. The problem with these corridors is they make it easier for wolves to find and hunt caribou, which is a threatened species. To reduce the ecological impact of collecting seismic data, COSIA wanted to investigate exploration techniques that had minimal or no impact on land.
The consultant identified a number of areas for further investigation, such as modifying or shrinking existing methods, or leaving the ground entirely by going airborne or underground. Each of these paths of investigation identified novel technologies and delivered insight into their stage of development and how they might evolve over time. Thanks to this knowledge-gathering exercise, the COSIA team were able to significantly advance their understanding of each technology approach and assess its potential.
“Technology scans like these allowed us to pursue the most appropriate path with confidence that no relevant technologies had been overlooked,” says Jack O’Neill, COSIA’s Land Director. “Our Land members are committed to exploring existing and potential future technologies in this space and this report helps to laser focus ongoing and future efforts to approach zero land disturbance exploration.”
Read more about the Land Challenge in COSIA Exploration Tools 2020.
Interested in other stories like this one? Check out some recent blogs in our Innovation Hacks series.
• Radical sharing finds solutions faster
• Engaging with innovators
• Propelling start-ups to the finish line
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