METS Accelerator, Surat Basin, resources industry.
METS Accelerator, Surat Basin, resources industry.

Resources roadshow hits the net

CONNECTING small local business to experts in the resources industry was always the ultimate goal for the METS Accelerators program, and had everything gone to plan, it would have been a travelling show, drawing a large crowd to their business workshops.

But the COVID-19 outbreak threw a spanner in the works. Travel plans had to be cancelled, public gatherings were no longer allowed and the team behind METS had to scramble to find a new way of mentoring eager resources entrepreneurs of the west.

In just a few weeks, they turned their resources industry workshops into a series of online classes presented through video conference program Zoom and organiser David Masefield has been surprised by its early popularity.

David Masefield.
David Masefield.

Mr Masefield said adapting to the challenges presented by COVID-19 has changed his program for the better and allowed it to reach even more people over the first two sessions, held on April 14 and 21.

“We had original plans to do a roadshow to Roma, Miles, Dalby and Wandoan, running sessions to help local businesses enter the resources sector and then a large accelerator event with a big cohort in Toowomba,” he said.

“Obviously with everything that has happened, it wasn’t possible for that to go ahead, so we turned METS Accelerator into a virtual roadshow, with a few different companies dropping in.

“We have turned it in to weekly sessions of seven workshops, which anyone can virtually attend if they are in the mining, energy, resources or renewables sector, or if they have an idea that might translate in to them.

“So the problem we had with COVID-19 has actually turned in to an opportunity to open the program to more participants who can come in remotely.”

METS Accelerator is a joint initiative of five groups: Orio Jam, Startup Toowoomba, Canvas Coworking, METS Ignited, and the Queensland Government.

The program is aimed at helping businesses which are looking to enter the resources industry, particularly in the Surat Basin,and boost their outcomes - something Mr Masefield believes is even more vital during the pandemic, which has delivered a blow to local economies.

“We are helping businesses to create a unique value proposition and accelerate their commercial outcomes; especially at a time like this, we need to have a component to help with resilience, diversify business models, and find new ways into the market,” he said.

“It takes all different sized companies to make the industry work and a lot of major resources companies wouldn’t succeed without the inputs and support they get from our regional, smaller companies.

“This program gives them a chance to test and validate their new business ideas by running them by experienced industry mentors and taking them to a place that will be successful and have a paying customer.”

The first online METS Accelerator sessions have had promising feedback, according to Mr Masefield, but he is not ready to call it an outright success.

Mr Masefield said the program’s outcomes are yet to be seen and he expects to see the results long after its conclusion, when new ideas are coming to fruition in the resources industry.

“(METS Accelerator’s) success is yet to be proven and I think it will depend on the uptake by our participants,” he said.

“Once we have them completing the program and then see what their outcomes are after attending, that is when we know whether it has been a success.

“In our feedback from the first session, participants said it was great value, worth the investment of their time and they learned a lot from the industry mentors.

“So from that aspect it has had an early success, but the real proof comes in six to 12 months time when we find out if people are developing new ideas and have found a customer, or have commercialised their new business model and have found success within the mining industry.”

METS Accelerator sessions are held each Tuesday from 9am. Anyone with interest in the Surat Basin resources industry can register online at startuptoowoomba.com.au/mira-darling-downs/

Sessions three to seven each have a specific focus, and will run on the following dates:

  • April 28: Business models and pipeline
  • May 5: Legal Considerations of IP and negotiating
  • May 12: Brand, marketing and communications
  • May 19: How to craft a winning pitch
  • May 26: Online demo day