Mining-focused startups offered cash for innovative ideas

Do you have a good idea for a mining-focused startup? One company is offering $70,000 in exchange for a 10 per cent equity stake in new businesses that have real potential.

The Unearthed technology accelerator will run for six months and is aiming to take on three startups in its first intake.

Four ‘Unearthed’ events around Australia will bring together top software developers, designers, and data scientists with mentors from industry.

The events focus on quickly prototyping potential solutions to high-value resources sector problems.

The program is organised by Resource Innovation through Information Technology (RIIT) and supported by big-name companies including of Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Gold Fields and Austmine.

RIIT representative Justin Strharsky said the event essentially crowd-sources multiple potential solutions to industry challenges.

“The event format lowers the barriers to experimentation and expedites the development of proof-of-concept solutions,” Strharsky said.

The winning teams from these events may then be offered places in the Unearthed accelerator.

The first startup to be accepted into the accelerator was Perth company Newton Labs.

The team from Newton Labs took gold prize at the Unearthed event held in May.

Their unique monitoring system helps detect oversized boulders in hard rock mining operations which currently cost the industry more than $100 million in down time each year.

Strharsky said technology startups coming out of the Unearthed ecosystem will create jobs, Australian export income, and industry productivity gains.

“Australian mining has experienced a steady decline in productivity over the past decade,” Strharsky said.

“Most stakeholders believe part of the solution lies in innovation and the ability of the mining industry to more quickly adopt new technologies.

“We’re about open innovation and helping their investment create significant changes in between 12 and 18 months.”