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SparkLabs Energy Hosts it’s First Annual Demo Day

Panel Discussion at SparkLabs Energy's 2019 Demo Day

On Tuesday, March 19 2019, SparkLabs Energy hosted its first annual Demo Day event. During the Demo Day, the first cohort of the programme, consisting of six startups from Oman and around the world, presented their ground-breaking technologies. The event underlined the progress that is being made in establishing Oman as a centre for energy technologies and innovation in the region.

SparkLabs Energy is a startup accelerator program based in Muscat, Oman, supported by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), Phaze Ventures and SparkLabs Global Ventures. The programme was established in May 2018 when Phaze Ventures signed an MoU with Petroleum Development Oman to accelerate the development and deployment of technologies in the areas of Energy and Logistics within the Sultanate.

PDO is the national exploration and production company in the Sultanate. It accounts for about 70% of the country's crude-oil production and nearly all of its natural-gas supply. The Company is owned by the Government of Oman (which has a 60% interest), Shell Group (which has a 34% interest), Total (which has a 4% interest) and Partex (which has a 2% interest).

From left to right: Raoul Restucci, MD at PDO; H.E. Salim Aufy, Undersecretary of Oil & Gas; Mohammed Al-Wahaibi, Co-Founder at Phaze Ventures

The one-day conference, which was attended by over 250 delegates including international investors, corporates, media and entrepreneurs, was held under the auspices of His Excellency Eng. Salim bin Nasser Al Aufi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Oil and Gas. It saw the startups presenting their plans and also included panel discussions on the opportunities, challenges and the future outlook of corporate innovation in the Sultanate and across the region. Also, in discussion was the challenges in establishing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Oman and the GCC.

PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci, who gave the keynote speech at the event, said: “this is an exciting opportunity for Oman, and we are committed to playing our full part in helping to position the Sultanate as a regional energy leader.’’

“We aim to provide a platform that attracts entrepreneurs from Oman as well as internationally to support knowledge transfer between start-ups, corporate partners and government alike in solving the future energy needs of the region.”

The accelerator is an intensive six-month programme based around the development and deployment of pilot technologies in collaboration with corporate partners. The programme also offers start-ups seed funding, co-working space and mentorship to help grow their businesses and develop their cutting-edge technologies.

The first SparkLabs Energy cohort selected were: Interface Fluidics, Acoustic Data, Sensytec, eMushrif, Rihal and Voyager. These companies are working in a variety of fields including microfluidics for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), big data management and analytics, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The cohort also consisted of eighteen mentors from across the global with industry specific expertise who were matched with the startups to offer advice and support.

Speaking on the occasion, Abdullah Al-Shaksy, Co-Founder and CEO of Phaze Ventures, said: “this programme is a landmark accomplishment for the region’s shift to knowledge-based economies, attracting talent and investors from around the world and establishing the foundations of an Energy and Logistics hub of innovation. Together with PDO, SparkLabs Energy is a prime example of how Public Private Partnerships can accelerate success.”

PDO is actively supporting this initiative by providing opportunities for research and development and piloting, with Interface Fluidics, Rihal and eMushrif having already successfully completed their pilot projects with PDO, in the field of EOR, data management and IoT respectively, validating their technologies and securing additional scopes of work.

“We specifically designed the Sparklabs Energy programme with PDO and Phaze Ventures to benefit from Oman’s drive to become a leading global technology hub for future energy needs and efficiencies,” said Eugene Kim, SparkLabs accelerator partner. SparkLabs is the largest Pan-Asia accelerator group, with accelerators in Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States of America, Australia and the Sultanate of Oman.

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