Brisbane start-up Endeavour Programme has received $740,000 in Federal Government funding for the commercialisation of Octant AI, a new technology designed to tackle cost and time overruns in projects of all types.
Developed at the University of Oxford, Octant AI uses machine learning and AI to enhance traditional project management methods while addressing the issues that often cause major projects to become delayed and incur cost overruns of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Megaprojects expert Professor Bent Flyvbjerg, who is the Chair of Major Programme Management at the University of Oxford, says major project cost and time overruns have become standard worldwide.
“These huge projects are difficult to do and current management methods don’t work very well. The answer lies in taking a data driven approach, and AI technology can leverage data to overcome many of the causes of failure,” he said.
“It’s great to see our Oxford research being married with AI technology. The Australian government is on the right path here, and we are looking forward to supporting a paradigm change that will vastly improve the cost and time performance of major projects.”
Endeavour Programme co-founder and managing director David Porter says the funding comes at a critical time considering the announcement of major projects to kickstart the economy after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Huge infrastructure spends have been announced off the back of the pandemic, and Australia needs to squeeze every ounce of benefit from the spend,” he said.
“Octant AI will allow our governments and private sector to deliver infrastructure projects with significantly improved cost and time outcomes, ultimately benefitting taxpayers and the end user.”
A recent report by the Grattan Institute found costs have blown out by $24 billion on six of Australia’s nine megaprojects, transport projects worth more than $5 billion.
Porter says “the increasing complexity of projects combined with human limitations” has long been the cause of many project blowouts. “Our AI platform addresses both of these issues in a new and disruptive way and allows project owners, deliverers and financiers to make more informed decisions sooner, minimising the likelihood of overruns.
“It’s a big challenge but with up to two trillion dollars in project overruns globally, there is a huge opportunity to benefit.”
The Federal Commercialisation Accelerator funding is designed for small-medium businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers to bring new technology to market.