Unearthed Hackathon Speech

Chris gave this speech in Parliament about the Unearthed Hackathon event held in Adelaide bringing together 130 South Australians to develop solutions to issues for the mining and energy industry. 

Chris Picton MP - House of Assembly Speech - 13 October 2015

South Australia has a strong and growing innovation and start-up community, but we need this to grow in the future to create economic opportunities for this state, particularly for our home-grown developers, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs. One of the many opportunities for growth in this sector is in the mining and energy industry. 

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of representing the Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, giving a speech at the launch of the first Adelaide Unearthed Hackathon at the St Paul's Creative Centre. This event brought together over 130 South Australians to participate, many of whom were young people studying at our universities. It was a 54-hour open innovation event. Teams were formed to develop solutions for particular challenges for the mining and energy industries. Five challenges were set by the Department of State Development, BHP Billiton and OZ Minerals. These were real-world challenges facing the mining industry and they used real-world data from the government and those mining companies. 

This is the fourth Unearthed event that has been held across Australia, following similar events in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney. I am proud to say it was one of the best attended by developers participating across the country. When people think of digital innovation and start-ups, you immediately think of apps and consumer technology: social media, ride-sharing and the like. But, as Zane Prickett, who is the director of Unearthed, explained on the weekend, when you look at the statistics, most of those start-ups are occurring in industries like arts, media and IT, industries that comprise a relatively small percentage of our GDP or, in our state, gross state product. Whereas industries such as mining and energy or even industries such as agriculture comprise a relatively high percentage of our GSP, we are not seeing the same level of start-ups in them, and there is a huge opportunity there for our state. 

In the past it was regarded that mining companies work to solve their challenges internally without engaging many external service providers compared to other sectors, such as oil and gas. However, this is changing. These companies are now more open to looking externally for solutions to their challenges to improve efficiency, including through start-ups. This creates opportunities for South Australia to expand our mining services industry and to export those services to the world, even during this period of lower commodity prices where everybody is trying to become more efficient. 

Participants had access to the South Australian government geological data base, SARIG, which is regarded amongst the world's top-ranking data sites and which contains a wealth of exploration data, as well as access to real-word data and expertise from the mining companies involved throughout the weekend, BHP Billiton and OZ Minerals. 

The judges were Dr Jana Matthews from UniSA, Doug Adamson from Accelerating Commercialisation Entrepreneurs Program, Dr Paul Heithersay and Christine Gerrard from the Department of State Development (DST), Andrew Wellington from BHP Billiton and John Penhall from OZ Minerals. Thank you to all of those judges, as well as the mentors from those organisations and many others who were available for participants across the weekend. 

I would also like to thank Susan Andrews from DST for her efforts in seizing the opportunity to bring Unearthed to Adelaide. The winners of the weekend were the team HyperSpecX, comprising Ravi Hammond, Daniel Camilleri, Jack Gerrits and Konrad Janica. I hope these young men will further develop the technology they created during Unearthed and further the benefits for both the efficiencies of mining operations and the start-up community in South Australia. 

This work links to projects the South Australian government already has underway, including the ICT roadmap for minerals and energy where we are working with the Australian Information Industries Association to identify 11 opportunities where we can improve the productivity, environmental management and global competitiveness in the resource sector through the use of ICT. 

Through this program there are projects underway, including remote monitoring and mine assets, big data analytics to improve the purity of ores and the real time transfer of information from the drill site. In my speech on Friday night I encouraged all the participants to keep in touch with the department and the Mining and Petroleum Services Centre of Excellence because this government has a strong commitment to helping new mining service companies develop in our state. 

I hope that we can see Unearthed become an annual event in Adelaide because there are significant opportunities for our economy through the growth of mining services start-ups and entrepreneurs. 

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