Winners Emerge in NCDMB Local Content Hackathon

NCDMB NCI Fund

By Adedapo Adesanya

Five teams have emerged as winners in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Technology (NOGTECH) Hackathon sponsored by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

At the event, which was held over the weekend in Lagos, the panel of judges picked projects from Fuel Intellisense, Homefort Energy, Gricd Mote, Kiakia Gas and Airsynq as the most innovative and bankable.

During the grand finale of the programme, which specifically took place on Saturday, 15 semi-finalists made presentations on their innovations.

Each of the five winning teams received a cheque of $10,000 equity-free grant and will proceed to participate in a 3-month incubation programme during which they will get workspace, expert mentors, global partners and market access to the nation’s oil and gas industry, ensuring they become commercial and investor-ready.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, announced that the board will support the five firms in their product development phase, drawing from the $50 million Nigerian Content Research & Development Intervention Fund.

The board’s support, he said, will go into helping the companies get patents for their innovations and produce prototypes, supporting them to conduct field trials, business start-up as well as provide industry linkages.

He, however, confirmed that the board’s funding would depend on the success of the product incubation phase, stressing that “the goal is to fund bankable businesses, not charities.”

He explained that the sponsorship of the NOGTECH Hackathon is within the board’s mandate, hinting that section 70 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act empowers “the board to engage in targeted capacity and capability development interventions and conduct studies, research, investigation, workshops and trainings aimed at advancing the development of Nigerian content.”

In May 2020, during the height of COVID-19 lockdown, the board announced the event because it saw the opportunity to create a platform for local creation of digital technologies to solve problems for the Nigerian society.

He added that NCDMB was also keen to stimulate the participants to channel their intelligence and become successful entrepreneurs.

Mr Wabote counselled the five winning teams to be clear about their vision and strategy and retain their passion, stressing that their motivation should not be on making quick financial gains, rather on innovating solutions, making a difference and contributing to the society.

According to him, “All the greatest inventors, particularly in the technology space did not start by looking for money as the objective. They started because they wanted to make a difference and create a change. The prize money is not the key factor. It was meant to bring people together.”

“Once you have a passion for anything that you do, you will be successful. But once you put money first, you will be chasing money and it will be running away.”

He also advised other participants of the programme to stay committed, passionate and driven by value, stressing that there were many other routes to push their ideas to the market and the real winners are defined by the marketplace.

One of the winning teams is Fuel Intellisense, a project that will help fuel stations to get accurate data and avoid loss of revenue through syphoning underground fuel or stealing of fuel from different outlets. The project proposes to install a system that can be viewed remotely from anywhere, showing how much fuel was dispensed per day and what is left. The system will be installed on existing pumps and tanks.

Another project is Homefort Energy, which seeks to make cooking gas affordable and accessible to low-income families, whereby they can pay for gas using the pay as you go model. The initiative seeks to help millions of Nigerians, especially the rural poor to switch from using firewood or kerosene to cooking gas.

Another winning project is Gricd Mote and the proponents explained that it would provide cool shade transportation for temperature-sensitive items in the health sector and the oil and gas space and store them in correct conditions. The product will also provide monitoring for temperature humidity and locations of these items.

Kiakiais is another winning product and it seeks to get gas to the end-users while enabling them to know the quantity of gas left in their cylinders so that they don’t run out of gas in their homes. The system will also be used to order for gas and can be deployed by gas plant owners to manage sales in their plant.

The fifth project is Airsynq, a novel idea of balloon lifted satellite that uses helium to stay in flight up to about 2160 hours or about 90 days and having to come down for 24 hours routine maintenance. This technology can provide a year continuous area surveillance, with an artificial intelligence software that can help international oil companies and security teams monitor all the activities around areas where the balloon is deployed. The balloon goes through a routine of checking each image in real-time and then reports every activity that is happening with sensors that are able to pick out images from an altitude of about 3000 metres and with the balloon lifted satellite operating at about 3000 feet above the ground.

NOGTECH is the first-ever technology Hackathon in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry and it was organized by the NCDMB in partnership with Learners Support Consultancy Company.

The General Manager, Capacity Building Division NCDMB, Mr Ama Ikuru explained that call for entries was made in June in seven thematic areas: health, asset security, tackling cyber threats, renewable energy, skills and talent management and supply chain. He said that a total of 630 entries were received at the close of submission in the third week of July.

The entries were subjected to two stages of review, first from internal NCDMB Judges and then from external judges, before the top 15 teams were selected for the three-day Hackathon.

He revealed that the board was also working on other projects in support of technology development and innovations in the Oil and Gas Industry. Some of the initiatives include the sponsorship of ENACTUS – Science and Technology Innovation Challenge; Establishment of modern Research & Development Centres of Excellence; Upgrade of Laboratories in Universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training; Active participation in  Technology Expos and NCDMB Research Product Development framework to help inventors attain market penetration.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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