A matter of scale for METS Ignited

Ian Dover.

Pitching can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Indeed, popular films and TV series such as The Pursuit of Happyness and Shark Tank have traded on the inherent drama of the process.

But it’s something that is also important in the real world, and mining businesses are no exception.

Programs focused on startup developments are plentiful, but the development of ‘scale-up’ companies is something that is less established in industry in Australia.

Scale-up companies are defined as being more developed than startups, but not as established as large organisations. They fill an important role in the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector in Australia.

With this in mind, industry growth centre METS Ignited and accounting firm KPMG have collaborated on a scale-up focused accelerator over the past two years that allows METS companies to build their business case for the best possible audience.

Launched in 2017, in association with the Queensland Government as a pilot program called Igniting METS, the initiative has expanded in 2019.

The 2017 program involved seven Queensland-based companies and one Victoria-based company that sold into Queensland mining operations, working through a 12-week intensive course that used industry mentors.

It culminated in the companies having the opportunity to pitch to a variety of potential clients and investors at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne.

Now, with further support from the Western Australian Government and National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), the program has a new name to complement its broader focus: the Resources Innovators, Scale-ups and Entrepreneurs (RISE) Accelerator.

“If the participants need access to specific advice in specific areas, we can bring people in from our advisory teams to support that,” METS Ignited acting chief executive officer Ian Dover tells Australian Mining.

“The collaboration, sharing and constructive criticism from other METS companies in the cohort is invaluable.”

The program extended to 17 scale ups across both the METS and (for the first time) oil and gas sectors this year. The Austmine and Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) conferences in Brisbane will serve as the respective locales for the conclusion of the cohorts’ journey.

“The two events have a slightly different format but the broad objectives are split into decision makers and representatives from major operators and major equipment manufacturers in the industry that they normally would not be afforded the opportunity to engage with,” KPMG Australia’s RISE program director Ashley Brown says.

“The RISE Accelerator allows participants the opportunity to not only build relationships and networks with potential collaborators and clients, but also to work through a program that can result in a considerable improvement to their pitching skills and their confidence in addressing new markets – a small number of the organisations have elected to be at both of those conferences as well.”

From the initial Igniting METS pilot two years ago, RISE has extended into a wider scope to provide a national accelerator pathway for established businesses that require capability development around new products and services. This extends to the development of regional accelerators for businesses on the rung below the required level for RISE participation.

“In late 2018, we rolled out regional ‘mini-accelerators’ in association with the Queensland Government for METS start-ups and small-to-medium businesses that focused on businesses looking to expand their markets,” explains Dover.

“These accelerators are developed with a smaller format than RISE and are cheaper to run, encouraging regional facilitation.”

The Western Australia-based finalists taking part in the 2019 Accelerator include OrwayIQ; Innovative Blasting Technologies; Gecko Telemetry; A6oN; Global Tenements; Tan Ninety; Beruseal/Carbontech Composite Systems; Digatex; and Chironix.

The Queensland cohort includes Compella Compression; Team Airconstruct/AirConnect; Team Group; Kelly’s Australia; Gen 7 & iRoller Team; Modulr Tech; Magman; and Connec Industrial Power.

The participants run the gamut from automation and Industry 4.0-focused software providers to robotics specialists and machine engineering companies.

Since the participants are scale-ups, not startups, they don’t necessarily need to prove the validity of their products, but require access to an appropriate audience often in a new market or an injection of capital to push their designs and technologies forward.

“It gives the participants a structured curriculum and the time to work on their business. They can learn about capital, unique selling positions and staffing and recruitment and growth. It teaches them how to grow and scale up sustainably, which is vital for success internationally,” Dover concludes.

This article also appears in the June edition of Australian Mining. 

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.