Innovation, according to Merriam-Webster’s definition, is “the introduction of something new, a new idea, method or device.” It sounds simple enough. And in retrospect it often looks simple, too.
But the reality is the process of innovation is full of uncertainty, false starts and failure. It demands a level of determination and faith that balances on a knife’s edge between genius and foolishness.
It sounds an awful lot like exploration. And as we’ve shown throughout this issue of the EXPLORER, innovation is at the heart of the process of finding and producing oil and natural gas.
Here at AAPG we’ve also been talking about innovation, and how we as an Association can best achieve our principal purpose of advancing the science of geology – particularly as it relates to petroleum, natural gas and other subsurface fluids and mineral resources.
We already provide many outlets for geoscientists to share their knowledge and experiences. That happens at conferences and symposia, in journal articles and special publications.
Our Geosciences Technology Workshops typically include plenty of time for interactive discussion on a given topic. And our invitation-only Hedberg conferences are specifically designed to bring together groups of experts to help facilitate deeper understanding and breakthroughs on a particular theme.
But we’ve been looking for ways to expand this activity and to breathe new life into geoscience research by broadening the conversation, cutting across the traditional industry/academic divide and facilitating the pursuit and development of new geological insights and understanding that help our community of professionals find more oil and natural gas.
Enter the AAPG Research Showcase, a brand new program we’re unveiling at the upcoming 2015 Annual Convention and Exhibition in Denver.
Located in a dedicated area in the exhibition hall, the AAPG Research Showcase will feature current or proposed research projects from scientists from around the world. We’re planning to have hard-wall panels for them to post information about their projects and a small theater where they will have an assigned time to present their proposals.
We’re hoping researchers from universities, institutes, industry, consultancies, research consortia, government laboratories and “think tanks” all will choose to participate.
But the purpose of their presentations is not to talk about what research they’ve already done – that work is presented in the technical talks and poster sessions.
Instead, they’ll be talking about the research they are planning to do, and how the listener can get involved.
There are a few criteria for the kinds of projects we’re looking for:
♦ First, the proposed research should be seeking to provide answers that will help geoscientists find and produce oil and natural gas.
This could, for example, include development of a new way to model hydrocarbon generation in source rocks, better predict reservoir behavior during development or a region-scale prospectivity assessment or basin evaluation in a frontier area.
There’s a lot of room to be creative, but the bottom-line is the research you propose should have an application to E&P.
♦ Second, the research project you’re presenting should have a specific proposal.
What are you trying to accomplish? Who is planning to do the study? Have you scoped a budget for this project? What do you need to be successful?
Perhaps you’re looking for scientific collaborators – other researchers whose expertise complements your own – to conduct this study. Alternately, you may have already assembled a research dream team and are still seeking financial support necessary to do the study.
We’re looking to create a forum where you can find other people interested in your project.
♦ Finally, you should be willing to engage in a market place of ideas to promote the best in geoscience research.
Are you willing to present this proposal and take feedback on how to improve it and perhaps modify your approach so that it can proceed?
It’s my belief that we need a new model for funding geoscience research.
In many countries, the government funding available to support academic research, and particularly the research for masters and doctoral students, is drying up. And yet without this research ecosystem and infrastructure how can we train and equip the oil and gas industry’s next generation workforce?
Industry has a strong track record of supporting academic research that is useful and relevant to its needs. In the AAPG Research Showcase we’re hoping to stimulate the conversations between academic scientists and industry practitioners to dramatically expand this cooperation.
As we try to innovate here at AAPG, I’m reminded of the 19th century investor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison. The legend has it that Mr. Edison suffered many, many failures on his path to developing a stable, long-lasting incandescent light bulb, an invention that transformed the modern world.
So, please provide us feedback as we launch this new initiative.
How can we ensure that it is valuable both for the presenter and the audience?
How can we help you expand your network, find collaborators and perhaps get your project funded – all in the pursuit of advancing our science?
Be a part of the new AAPG Research Showcase. Because when it comes to geoscience research funding, we need a better light bulb.