TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEURSHIP COURSE OPPORTUNITY ANALYSIS PHASE IInnovative Aeronautics Team November 2012
Opportunity Analysis Structure • Our initial Opportunity Analysis will be presented given the following structure: – Brief Venture Idea Presentation – Market Analysis – Client Interviews & Feedback – Modified Prototype of the Product – Marketing Strategy – Competition and Risk Analysis
Brief Business Description (1) • This new business venture will focus on deploying smart UAVs for civil applications • Our focus is on applications of the Energy Sector and in particular: – Gas & Oil Industries – Power Grid Companies • The main activities will include but will be not limited to: – Power lines Inspections – Gas & Oil pipelines imaging and monitoring
Brief Business Description (2) • Our goal is to : – Execute missions according to customer specifications utilizing company-owned UAVs and personnel necessary for mission deployment, data acquisition and processing – Provide company-owned UAVs according to customer specifications with/without the support personnel necessary for mission deployment, data acquisition and processing
Market Analysis (1) • Civil UAVs are: – Autonomous, fully operational unmanned aerial vehicles used for civilian uses – The most dynamically growing sector of the aerospace and defense industry – An exceptional chance for a business venture with outstanding profitability prospects • Key advantages: – Vastly reduced costs – Enhanced operational capabilities – Safety of personnel & public – Environmentally friendly vehicles
Market Analysis (2) • Teal Group Market Research* – For years 2009-2019. world procurement raising from 4.4 $ bn annually to 8.7 $ bn – For years 2009-2019. total expenditure >62 $ bn * UAV Market Research, 2009 "A civil market for UAVs is beginning to emerge over the next decade, starting first with governmental organizations" World UAV Forecast, Teal Group, 2010
Potential Client Interviews (1) • Our business venture idea is focusing on providing B2B UAV services for the energy sector. • In B2B UAV services for the energy sector, the number of potential clients is relatively limited and the large number of interviews does not apply in our case. • We had interviews with key potential clients located in Greece: – Hellenic Electricity Transmission System Operator S.A. – DEPA (Greek Natural Gas Monopoly) – Hellenic Petroleum – Public Power Corporation of Greece (biggest greek electric power company)
Potential Client Interviews (2) • Key questions to potential clients where divided into technical and non-technical – Technical questions tried to specify the special needs of each energy industry for UAV services – Non-technical questions included among others: • Would you invest on UAV solutions for your needs? • If yes, what are your costs for your current solutions? • Could you make a gross estimation for what you would be willing to pay for each service? • What suggestions would make you more attracted to our services?
Potential Client Interviews (3) • Non-technical questions (continued): – What suggestions would make you more attracted to our services? – If you do not want to buy our services can you describe us the reasons? – Give any other comments you want for our services • Results – The result of the interviews were very encouraging since they clarified: • The interest for UAV solution to various fields from energy industries; provided offering lower cost on the midterm • The exact application fields & technical aspects where industries are willing to apply UAV solutions • How our business prototype should be modified technically in order to fit the needs of the energy sector
Interview Feedback (1) • Application Fields suggested by Oil & Gas companies: – Detection of gas emission escapes/oil leakages from the pipelines – Monitoring of construction & excavation works, laying of cables etc – Monitoring of repairing activities, assembling machinery, laying drainage cables – Discoloring of vegetation above pipelines – Monitoring of temporary deposition of materials and agricultural products around the pipelines
Interview Feedback (2) • Application Fields suggested by power grid companies: – Daily & Emergency failure inspection – Power engineering dynamic monitoring & visual tracking of designated features (powerlines, poles, etc) – Thermographic inspection of electrical connections in the grid – Identification of pylon and insulator corrosion, arcing and hot spots
Interview Feedback (3) • The main reasons energy sector companies would be interested in using UAVs for their activities included: – Minimization of human factor (lower labor costs) – Minimization of accident risks – Easy access to remote and dangerous areas – Fast response and diagnosis of critical conditions – Lower maintenance and monitoring cost on the midterm. The latter is one of the main criterion the companies suggested in order to invest to UAV solutions.
Product Prototype (1) • Based on the feedback from the interviews we realized that one the main problems when using inspection vehicles is the duration of its power supply. • The longer the craft can stay operational the more lines/pipelines can be inspected. Current battery technology does not permit long durations of flight for small electrically driven UAVs
Product Prototype (2) • To solve this problem we thought of a novel solution that derives added value through the combination of the advantages of two established types of UAVs: – autonomous blimps – quadrocopters which can be refueled on air by the blimps • We propose an air-to-air refuelling system which addresses the main shortcomings of both as well, thus resulting in a holistic approach and efficient solution for most types of energy UAV applications. • In advance provides high autonomy and mission range with lower cost.
Product Prototype (3) • Blimps advantages – increased payload and range – quiet and obstructive (for the public) operation – stationary surveillance capability – low cost to manufacture and maintain • Quadrocopters advantages – exceptional agility – small size thus micro-level surveillance capability – very low cost to manufacture and maintain
Product Prototype (4) • The proposed scheme foresees the deployment of an autonomous blimp, equipped with mission-specific sensors (ranging from conventional cameras to IR and LiDARs) which also operates as a flying carrier and refueling station for small quadrocopters. • In that manner, aerial surveillance in macro- and micro-level can be attained simultaneously, thus optimally satisfying the requirements for most energy missions. • Effectively all aerial surveillance applications (3d mapping, predictive maintenance for energy grids, corridor mapping, public safety, remorse sensing, etc, necessary for the application fields) can be executed in a most efficient manner.
Marketing Strategy • Based on our interview with the energy industries we realized that the best marketing approaches to make our services attractive would be by using the following promotion channels: – Aerospace Fairs – Direct Marketing on the basis of existing references – Specialized media – Academic Conferences – Journals to present our technical aproach
Competition and Risk Analysis (1) • Main risks/advancements: – Very low probability of shift in political conditions regarding UAV perception (e.g. legal frame that will allow air-traffic blend-in for fully autonomous UAVs already elaborated) – Low probability of economical conditions affecting the emerging UAV market (massive cost reduction!) – Very low probability of social disapproval for civil UAV technologies (significant advances in public benefit, advances in personnel safety, environmentally friendly technology, positive image) – Very low probability of technology advances rendering UAV uses obsolete (instead, help to establish autonomous technologies in civil applications)
Competition and Risk Analysis (2) • Prospective Competitors – Specialized UAV companies: technical deficiencies, lack of development, inferior starting point – Big aerospace manufacturers: over-occupied with existing markets, focus on military applications for UAVs • Currently, only a very limited number of small companies are focusing on UAV solution for the energy sector. • Our strongest advantage is the high autonomy provided by our air-to-air refuelling system
Next Steps • For the second phase of the Market Opportunity research we plan to: – Continue interviews with potential clients from other countries – Make a gross estimation for the costs of our venture idea – Make a comparison of the potential economic benefit when introducing UAV services in energy sector activities and for each specific application task