By Andrew Hobbs, Group Editor

I HAD the privilege of attending a sundowner held recently by Subsea Energy Australia at a function centre on the banks of Perth’s Swan River.

As these events by definition are, it was a relaxed affair, punctuated by a speech given by a representative of a particular cause, in this case, Fletcher Young – the co-founder and executive chairman of not for profit organisation Australia’s Bridge.

The organisation works to engage Australia’s engineering and construction sector with community projects across the nation – helping to connect firms wishing to donate their expertise with deserving groups.

Connecting the two groups would give not for profit causes an advantage they did not often enjoy in their efforts to make progress on their various causes, he said.

The ability of the for-profit sector to invest in talent and marketing, and its capacity to attract capital and take risks, were areas where it had a clear advantage over those in the not-for profit sector.

“Donations are only part of the story – it’s the talented people, entrepreneurial culture, processes and systems of the for-profit sector that are needed,” he said.

It was an interesting point to make to a room full of subsea industry specialists at a time of widespread concern about the prospects of the Australian oil and gas industry.

But it was received well. After all, these are the skills that form a major part of any successful enterprise – whether or not they aim to be profit-making.

Throughout the course of putting together this edition’s AOG – Innovation feature, I was surprised at the common themes that kept emerging – both in the stories our team has independently researched and in contributed articles.

Innovation, we are told, is a long term process – it cannot simply be turned on and off. Moreover, even when new innovations are made, they can take a long time to get off the ground – if they ever do so.

Accenture’s Gertjan Leideman calls for increased collaboration between government, industry and individual project owners – sharing infrastructure and best practice standards – in order to support innovators.

Consultant Jeanette Roberts makes a similar recommendation, calling for collaboration between these groups to take place quicly in order for the industry to cater more effectively to the possibilities created by Floating LNG.

But, she says, it is also important to recognise the uses of existing technologies in new markets, and for those technologies to be presented effectively to potential buyers.

This too, would require a proactive, collaborative effort, she said.

The Australasian Oil & Gas Exhibition & Conference is set to take place at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre this month, with over 620 exhibitors expected to attend.

Between AOG and APPEA, scheduled to take place in May, Australian oil and gas industry workers will have many opportunities to network, share ideas and knowledge with visitors from around the world.

The energy that brings these groups together is the energy that can bring forward a new collaboration between all parties to Australian industry to push innovation – and future projects – forward.

Because after all, you never know where you’ll find your audience.