Third Grey Matters initiative to harness oil and gas expertise to create viable new businesses

Source: press release, 17 September 2018

John Harris, Grey Matters programme lead
John Harris, Grey Matters programme lead (photo: Elevator)

A transformative initiative which brought together redundant but highly experienced oil and gas professional, to create and launch exciting, innovative and scalable businesses is aiming to build on its success, as applications open for the third programme.

The latest Grey Matters programme, a joint initiative from Elevator, Scottish Enterprise and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), will get underway on November 15.

Grey Matters aims to drive the future of energy in Scotland by bringing together the experience and knowledge of ambitious individuals, from the oil and gas sector who are either redundant or willing to commit to a new challenge and supporting them to work together to create high growth businesses.

Up to 25 participants will take part in idea generation, innovation and start-up workshops so a business idea is not essential, although applicants must be able to commit to a 16-week intense experience at Elevator’s Centre of Entrepreneurship in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.

A free information session is also being held on Wednesday, September 26 from 10 am to 12 pm for anyone who is keen to find out more.

As a social enterprise, Elevator works across Scotland to help facilitate the start-up, acceleration and growth of new and existing businesses. Following a pilot programme in 2017, a second Grey Matters programme ran earlier this year, leading to the creation of six scalable businesses.

Each of the innovations and technology proposed (or being developed) by Windstorm, Evadne Immersive, C-NumeriC, Resolute, MarineJoule and Sentinel Subsea has the potential to transform the global energy sector.

John Harris, Grey Matters programme lead, says the team could not have predicted the runaway success of the scheme.

“We could never have imagined the level of success that has been delivered from our second Grey Matters programme. Six new businesses that each have the potential to change the energy sector, at home and abroad, have been launched, patents are or have been secured and developments to prototyping and field trials are progressing at an accelerated rate,” he says.

“The next Grey Matters is open to anyone who is looking for a new challenge and is particularly aimed at anyone who has been made redundant from the oil and gas industry. It is also extremely important to note that we are looking for a broad range of skills, and in particular, applicants with finance or leadership backgrounds are encouraged to come forward alongside applicants with a strong technical background,” continues Harris.

“Some participants will come with an idea which is already being worked on, some will come with the makings of an idea which needs to be developed and others will come with no previous business idea – and that’s OK. We want to use their skills and experience and form teams and businesses which make the most of their knowledge. Grey Matters will give them an intense learning and growth experience. At the end of the 16 weeks, the aim is for them to leave with a well-developed proposition, customers who are willing to buy into the idea and potential investors,” Harris adds.

Collaboration both within the cohort of participants and with external partners will be encouraged and there will be a strong emphasis on networking and engaging with local and global experts and mentors.

Topics covered will include business planning, globalisation, marketing, fundraising, team management and intellectual property.

Eleanor Mitchell, Scottish Enterprise’s Entrepreneurial Growth and Grant Appraisal & Management Director, says, “Entrepreneurial activity flourishes in a time of economic uncertainty, and we believe that there is an opportunity to catalyse entrepreneurship within the Oil and Gas community with those who have experience of operating in a global market.”

The Grey Matters initiative forms part of a joined-up approach to secure a pipeline of innovators and new business start-ups that will cement the energy supply chain in the north-east of Scotland.

Graduates from the programme are ideally positioned to establish themselves and apply to the TechX accelerator run by the OGTC, which offers funding up to GBP 100,000 to start-ups with new technology ideas, expert mentors and global partners to develop and validate new technologies.

Anyone interested in taking part in Grey Matters can apply online at or contact Karen Clark by email at