Innovation Hacks: Helping innovators access private funding
One of the more common challenges for early-stage technology companies is accessing funding at the right time in the technology development cycle. Often, external investment is required to advance the innovation to the next level. As part of its innovator support program, Pathways Alliance helps start-ups identify and access the resources they need to advance their technologies towards a field pilot.
Through its innovation arm, COSIA Pathways Alliance can help start-ups access government or public funding when technology is in early stages. But as the technology matures, start-ups inevitably need to access larger and larger amounts. That’s when private capital investment comes in as scale-up development starts to exceed government funding thresholds. COSIA can help start-ups access alternate funding by introducing them key organizations that might be willing to step in.
One example of a technology start-up that was in this situation is Innervision Wellbore Technologies, a Calgary based company with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that helps oil sands producers visualize the infrastructure of the wellbore (production well). Wellbores are lined with casing to protect soil and groundwater from becoming contaminated with drilling mud or fluids. The casing also stabilizes the wellbore for production.
Innervision helps to clean up oil and gas wells by providing a better assessment of well integrity. Their AI tool provides real-time, high-resolution 3D imaging that can monitor wellbore issues, such as steel and cement cracks, perforations and corrosion. The company had patented its technology and conducted lab scale tests, but they needed to conduct a field test in a physical well. They secured a test well site and were looking for capital to purchase equipment.
Pathways Alliance recognizes that when it comes to raising significant financing, start-ups need solid introductions to key funders. White it does not maintain a rolodex of private equity investors, COSIA does have widespread contacts in the innovation ecosystem. It can introduce start-ups to key organisations or programs that provide the introductions a start-up needs.
One key program is the Rice Alliance Energy Tech Venture Forum, an annual one-day pitch event in Houston, Texas that attracts around 500 energy private venture capital investors and other energy innovators. It is the premier energy technology venture capital conference in North America and connects energy innovators with a variety of investors, corporations and others in the energy ecosystem.
After COSIA alerted Innervision to this opportunity and encourage them to apply, the company was invited to pitch at the September 2022 forum. The event put Innervision in the spotlight not only with potential private equity funders but also with potential customers from around the globe.
Innervision Chairman Tim Davies says the event helped the company take the leap to commercialization. “Pathways Alliance members provided exceptional technical guidance and COSIA was instrumental in helping us get the funding we needed to complete our emissions reduction wellbore integrity technology. They introduced us to several key groups, federally, provincially and from the private sector that we hadn’t know about before.” he said.
As a result, the company secured more than $1.25 million from various provincial and national agencies. They were also entered into the Startup TNT pitch competition, which they won, attracting additional investment. “Without the support of COSIA and Pathways Alliance members we would not been able to achieve such a reach. I would like to thank the members who didn’t give up on us,” Davies said.