Welcome to UTEN
The University Technology Enterprise Network (UTEN) program was created in 2007 between the Portuguese Government and the IC2 Institute of The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) to provide a commercialization outlet for the science and technology (S&T) in-country investments. UTEN’s mission gradually evolved to build a professional, globally competitive and sustainable technology transfer and commercialization network in Portugal oriented toward international markets.
Global Startup Program success story: Abyssal
Global Startup Program expands opportunities for 2013-2014 participant Abyssal
Abyssal (www.abyssal.eu) develops integrated Subsea Navigation Solutions for Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). The company’s software, Abyssal OS, was developed after years of working with ROV pilots, subsea contractors, and oil & gas companies. Abyssal OS features advanced 3D technology, augmented reality, and precise navigation. These features allow it to operate safely in the world’s harshest aquatic environments, at depths up to 6,000 meters, or about 4 miles, while superior visualization for the ROV pilot helps reduce “down time” (time underwater), and thus decrease operational expenses. Headquartered in Matosinhos, Portugal, the company is led by Manuel Parente and Rafael Simão.
In February this year, Abyssal entrepreneurs Manuel Parente and Rafael Simão made an accelerated tour of the US oil and gas industry – landing in New Orleans and proceeding through Houston and finishing in Austin. It wasn’t their first attempt at promoting Abyssal in the United States. “A year ago we visited these same places and tried to break into this market on our own, without success,” admits Parente.
“Interest would be expressed when we were in a meeting, but nothing would happen after that,” adds Simão.
While they hoped the UTEN program with the IC² Institute would prove helpful to entering the US market, their expectations had to be re-scaled. Max Green was UTEN mentor for the Abyssal team. “We had four meetings that first day in New Orleans,” he describes, “and at the end of the day I said: Guys, let’s talk.” That first-day discussion transformed the Abyssal business model from one pursuing a $500 million total addressable market, to a potential market of $850 million annually. This market potential could be shifted by making two strategic changes: 1) moving from a purchase-based model to a rental & service-based model (preferred by the oil and gas industry); and 2) by identifying a new performance level to their product offering (also preferred by the market) to enable realtime onshore monitoring of ROV data, in addition to their current offering of two product levels: one to serve the pilot and another to serve the client.
“When we started the UTEN program we expected the IC² Institute team to be hands on, but didn’t expect to get the results we have so quickly… We now have three potential partnerships to consider. Our expectations have been surpassed by a thousand fold.”
- Margaret Cotrofeld, IC² Institute