Currently in over 100 countries around the world, people radio-tracking animals cover vast areas on foot, carrying cumbersome radio-receiver equipment in search of elusive radio signals. They constantly seek the highest ground possible to increase the likelihood of picking up the signals, clambering on top of cars, fences and anything else to gain height. However, by using Wildlife Drones, the highest point is anywhere you can launch a drone, resulting in up to 75% reduction in the time and effort required to locate radio-tagged animals.
Over the past four years we have designed, built and field tested the world’s first radio-tracking drone. This lightweight, highly portable system can accurately and efficiently track radio-tagged animals from the air. Since a single media release 12 months ago, numerous potential customers, including international conservation NGOs and research organisations from 17 countries have contacted us. They have expressed interest in using Wildlife Drones for tracking a diversity of species ranging from Kiwis to Orangutans. We have also recently secured our first customer to radio-track endangered Swift Parrots in 2017. An indication of our target market comes from the global sales of 210,000 wildlife tags per year1, with tagging for conservation forecast to increase over the next 10 years2. With an average of 15 animals tagged for each project, this equates to 14,000 tracking projects per year. By capturing just 5-10% of this market, we would be providing Product System Services for up to 1400 projects per annum. Additionally, our team is exploring growth opportunities within the agriculture and pest animal management sectors.
Our Product Service System (PSS)3 model involves leasing our drones to customers, with optional use of an accredited pilot to do the flying. This will de-risk the transaction for our customers, as well as provide ongoing revenue and continuous customer feedback for our venture.
Our current team and established partnerships are well suited to execute the venture:
– Visionary, wildlife researcher & customer relations – Dr Debbie Saunders (ANU)
– Business manager, accounting and sales – Ms Ros Wallace (CIT)
– Robotics engineer/RF payload developer – in discussion with four potential candidates
– Mentors – K. Landale (IACT), T. Sinclair & M. Duursma (ON Prime), R. Fitch (Robotics)
– Team facilitator partner – Conflict Resolution Services, Ms Jenny Devlin
– Drone pilot and CASA training services partner – Aviassist, Mr Ross Anderson
In order to translate our existing research prototype into a commercial product there is a need to make it more user friendly, robust and affordable. Funding from IACT will contribute to the purchase of drone components, secure some makers space, begin building our first commercial Wildlife Drone prototype, and get insurance and CASA Operator Certification to enable us to undertake the required test flights. This will enable us to achieve growth through the development of a commercial product that can be used by early adopters. By demonstrating the effectiveness of our system to prospective customers we will then also be in a position to secure an increasingly large customer base.
To complement this investment, we will be using $5000 recently awarded to our team through the CSIRO ON Prime program to access legal advice, establish robust team agreements, secure our IP, and incorporate Wildlife Drones as a company. In addition, we will continue our dedication to building and refining our PSS business model canvas, undertake over 100 customer interviews to validate our model, and expand and strengthen our team to include a new roboticist. We will also continue to build key partnerships and further build our global reach and customer base through strategic marketing campaigns.
This venture will also provide valuable contributions to the ACT innovation ecosystem and broader community by:
– gaining global recognition of our world-first, innovative technology developed in the ACT;
– increasing the number of ACT women in STEM achieving entrepreneurial success;
– providing role models and mentorship for ACT girls interested in STEM and/or entrepreneurship;
– supporting and promoting the local makers space for our next prototype development and small scale manufacture;
– increasing ACT employment as our team, customer base and business grows; and
– decreasing the time, effort and money required for ACT organisations’ radio-tracking projects.
1Calculated from BioTrack tag sales totalling 6000 tags/yr (only figures available online), multiplied by the current number of Biotelemetery manufacturers (35) listed on BioTelem.org
2 Read more at IDTechEx: http://www.idtechex.com/research/reports/wearable-technology-for-animals-2017-2027-technologies-markets-forecasts-000488.asp
3PSS = a pre-designed system of products, services, supporting infrastructures and necessary networks that fulfil a consumer’s needs, have a smaller environmental impact than separate product and services with the same function fulfilment, have a continuous feedback/learning loop. Mont, O. (2000). Product-Service Systems, AFR-Report 288, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency: Stockholm, Sweden.