Innovation doesn’t come from a single source. It takes partnerships and collaboration between creative minds to solve the toughest challenges.
That was the inspiration behind ExxonMobil’s recent reverse pitch contest, which gave innovators a chance to submit their ideas to ExxonMobil and BBL Ventures, a Houston-based early-stage investor. In a reverse pitch, companies identify areas where improvements can be made and search for outside businesses that can build a solution around that specific problem. For the inaugural pitch, organizers tasked participants with developing breakthrough technology that could improve safety protocols and reduce the risk of injury to energy workers.
The judges from BBL Ventures reviewed hundreds of submissions and narrowed them down to seven groups who went to the final round in Houston to pitch to an ExxonMobil panel. The two winning pitches now have the opportunity to participate in a pilot program with ExxonMobil that could potentially scale up their technologies into working industrial products.
For more on this year’s Energy Challenge winners, scroll down.
CBS ArcSafe is no stranger to innovative ideas – the Texas-based company has created over 700 tools to improve worker safety. Their latest invention keeps technicians out of the way of arc flash. Arc flashes, while rare, are electrical faults which release large amounts of heat and light and can cause serious injury. At the heart of CBS ArcSafe’s winning technology is a remote control system that enables workers to perform maintenance on electrical systems at a safe distance. That removes workers from exposure to arc flash. The system includes live video so workers can monitor equipment status as they tend to other tasks.
Plant workers often have to manually open piping systems and other equipment that may release steam, process fluids and other hazardous materials, making limiting exposure important. Thanks to Arizona-based OctoRD’s innovation, workers can remotely open and close equipment, particularly pumps and piping systems, from a safe distance. The system features a series of long hoses and mechanisms that can remotely unbolt and bolt equipment through hydraulic pressure. If a leak is detected with the remote camera, the technology has an automatic feature that safely closes the equipment.