From Prototype to Product in 6 Months: Unearthed Accelerator Program - Newton Labs

Background

After winning the top prize at Unearthed’s Perth Hackathon in May 2014 (Australia’s first open innovation event for the mining industry) with a large bolder detection prototype, Newton Labs required additional support and funding to see their promising product reach the stage where it could deliver productivity and efficiency gains to mining companies.

Challenge

There is currently a low acceptance rate for emerging technologies in the resource sector outside of traditional pathways. The industry tends to focus on research-intensive technologies that take 10 to 15 years to develop, rather than on software and IT solutions that can be built and integrated in a matter of months. This makes sales of new technology solutions into resources companies quite challenging.

Australian startups also face significant funding challenges. Per capita investment capital available in Australia is just 5% of that in the United States. As a result, low-cost, high-productivity technology startups often find the resource sector a very difficult proposition and tend to focus elsewhere.

Process

After the event, Newton Labs conducted a more detailed assessment of the business opportunity by validating the problem, quantifying the impact of the problem & assessing the competition.

Once the challenge was validated, the team moved forward with developing the prototype to a full-scale product, they:

  • Evaluated industrial grade accelerometers and attachment devices
  • Began testing early on an operational site
  • Uncovered valuable additional insights

The Newton Labs team kept in contact with Unearthed, and once they had exhausted their research and development opportunities they applied & were accepted for Unearthed’s Accelerator Program.

The 6-month program gives innovators access to experienced industry mentors, seed funding, one-on-one sessions with business experts (including startup specialists), legal advice, and a vibrant office space, in which to work alongside others doing great things.

Results

Newton Labs gained valuable insight into the commercialization process during the accelerator program. Results include:

  • Vital credibility within the market for demonstration and trial opportunities & showcase at “Demo Day”
  • Access and exposure to local and national media outlets to help generate interest and leads
  • Deploying their product on Rio Tinto and other hard rock mine sites across Western Australia, where the potential savings are considerable
  • Exploring additional applications for the technology with Rio Tinto
  • Winning WA Innovator of the Year award shortly after graduation in 2015

For more information visit the Unearthed Accelerator page.