New program fast tracks innovator success

Innovation Hacks

Developing new products is a convoluted journey with twists and turns that can stall or delay reaching the finish line. COSIA’s new pilot program is designed to help innovators fast track technology development and reach pilot – the critical testing of new technology in the field – sooner. OptiSeis Solutions Ltd. was one of four companies that participated in the program launch, joining in May 2020 through a referral from Alberta Innovates.

COSIA’s pilot program prioritizes early-stage clean technologies that show potential to improve environmental performance in the oil sands. Through partnerships with the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) and Foresight Canada, it leverages the innovation ecosystem to deliver the right resources at the right time in a company’s technology development journey.

“Although we’ve successfully provided consulting services for 10 years, we’re a small company and we’re new to the clean tech space,” says Andrea Crook, OptiSeis’ president. “We also had no previous experience with funding agencies.” After an initial consultation, COSIA referred OptiSeis to the Foresight Canada program and NRC IRAP stepped up to sponsor their participation. 

OptiSeis’ innovative Eco-Seis software solution addresses a key challenge of seismic data acquisition, which historically required cutting narrow corridors through the boreal forest to transport and deploy geophysical survey equipment. These seismic lines are a major environmental footprint of oil and gas exploration and through COSIA, producers are identifying ways to improve environmental performance by advancing seismic exploration technologies with a zero or near zero footprint.

OptiSeis spent four months in the Foresight program and Crook says the focused business development the company received increased the speed of technology development significantly. “I really wish we’d had access to this type of program when we first started our business. It would have helped us grow our company a lot faster.”

Andrea Crook

Introductions to investors and opportunities to practice pitching the company’s technology to interested groups were also of immense value, she says. After focusing on the technology launch, the company tackled the technology development roadmap and topics such as: building the right team, intellectual property strategy, marketing, and product development timelines. “We were paired with Executives-in-Residence (EIRs) for the entire time who provided business advice and guidance on day-to-day issues,” Crook says. 

By August 2020, OptiSeis had developed a proposal for a research project and with the support of five COSIA members, they submitted a funding application to Alberta Innovates. The project launched in December and the company is now raising funds for phase two, a large scale field trial. Crook says they still meet with Foresight’s EIRs for quarterly reviews and are well on their way to commercialization.

Crook credits COSIA with enabling faster development of their technology. “Without it, it would have taken us a lot longer,” she says. “It was a great experience working with technical staff from COSIA member companies too.”

Written by Peter Beaudoin, COSIA's Senior Advisor, Strategy and Partnerships 

Interested in stories like these? Check out other blogs in our Innovation Hacks series:
•    Supporting early stage startups
•    Not just for start-ups!
•    How technology scans work

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