It can be tough being an energy startup entering a world dominated by Big Oil, especially when it comes to raising capital.

The task of getting potential investor buy-in for new products and services can be daunting.

Imagine having only five to eight minutes to pitch what your company has to offer to a group of venture capitalists, angel investors and industry leaders. That is exactly what startups participating in the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition's (ATCE) Energy Startup Competition will do.

Teaming up with the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University, which organizes similar competitions in Houston, the association will have the competition during this year’s ATCE in San Antonio. Participants will have a chance to win a piece of the more than $75,000 in cash prizes.

Participants must be upstream technology companies that are less than 15 years old, have less than $10 million in 2016 revenue, be seeking outside investment capital and have technologies that can be used in the upstream energy sector. As explained in guidelines posted online, areas of focus can include digital technologies such as Big Data analytics, Industrial Internet of Things applications and sensors for reservoir monitoring. Applicable areas of technology also include optimization of artificial lift and hydraulic fracturing, downhole submersible pump enhancements, flare gas energy recovery and high-performance corrosion coatings—to list a few.

Startups wanting to participate shouldn’t hesitate. The application deadline for the competition, called ATCE Startup Village-Energy Startup Competition, is 5 p.m. Aug 1. Among the required documents is up to a 150-word company summary and a 1- to 5-page non-confidential executive summary. There is no fee to participate, and the presenter for each company invited to participate in the competition will receive complimentary admission to the conference Oct. 10.

On the morning of the competition selected companies will compete. The afternoon agenda includes table discussions, expert presentations and networking.

“The Rice Alliance has successfully conducted more than 50 similar events over the past 17 years, with presenting companies going on to raise US$3.7 billion+ in startup and follow-on funding,” SPE said on its website.

Those in the E&P sector may have heard about some companies that participated in previous Rice Alliance Energy & Clean Technology Venture Forum events. The next one is set for Sept. 14.

Modumetal, a Seattle-based metals manufacture that specializes in nanolaminated alloys, is among those that have gained the industry’s attention. The company spotlighted its new class of protective metal alloys during the event in 2014.The company has worked alongside oil and gas companies that include ConocoPhillips and Chevron.

Another is Seismos of Austin. The company’s technology provides real-time monitoring of underground fluid flows inside the reservoir during production. The technology focuses on noise, a small subsegment of low-frequency waves that travel laterally inside the reservoir.

Good luck to all participating startups in both of the competitions. Perhaps, their technologies will lead to further growth for the oil and gas industry, which has become increasingly reliant on new technology to drive efficiency gains and cost cuts.

Velda Addison can be reached at