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BUSINESS SENSE

KINETICA

VENTURES HELPS ALBERTA OILFIELD ENTREPRENEURS

K

inetica Ventures is a post-incubator “accelerator” that supports Alberta innovators. Alberta oil patch innovators are about to get another helping hand up as the Alberta and Canadian governments step up funding for Kinetica Ventures, a post-incubator program headquartered with Calgary Innovates. One of the best kept secrets in Canada is the size, innovativeness, and export-orientation of the Alberta oilfield services and manufacturing sectors, which generate billions in annual revenues and employ tens of thousands of highly skilled workers. In 2013, 1,852 companies in the sector generated $13.5 billion of revenue and employed 45,505 people, according to figures provided by the Alberta government. Those firms exported a very healthy $3.5 billion of goods and services. There are two types of innovator, according to Kevin Frankowski, Kinetica’s leader. The first is the “garage entrepreneur” who works in the industry, has technical expertise, and thinks he (or increasingly, she) has a solution to a problem. The sector is dominated by companies of this type. And Alberta is very good at generating a lot of them. The second is a university or industry researcher who has developed a new technology in the lab or the field and think it’s ready for prime-time. Some of those entrepreneurs are part of the Calgary Innovates incubator, which helps entrepreneurs who walk in the door with a good idea but not much else. Once they have a business plan, start up capital, maybe a functioning prototype,

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they’re ready for the next step, which is Kinetica. “Incubators being basically very early stage startups. And accelerators sort of later stage startups. Further down the maturation path,” Frankowski said in an interview. Kinetica was soft launched last summer and cur­ rently supports 10 companies. Some are working on greenhouse gas technologies, either capturing carbon or reducing GHG emissions. Another company is developing an additive for drilling fluids, while another is developing a very fast, lowcost, and accurate technology for hydrocarbon leak detection in pipelines and tanks, says Frankowski. But once the products are ready for the market, the companies face special challenges establishing themselves in the oil and gas market, where producers are risk-averse and technical failures can cost millions of dollars. “There’s a fair amount of de-risking that needs to occur. External third party technology validation. Testing your pilot sites, that sort of stuff,” said Frankowski. Then there is the “implementation gap” between having a product that works and having customers. “There’s this gap of having no customers because no one’s willing to try it [the new product]. So we help with that,” said Frankowski. The Government of Alberta will partner with the federal government’s Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP) to support Innovate Calgary and its Kinetica Ventures program. As part of a twoyear funding commitment the Alberta Government will

Oilfield PULSE February 2015  
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