Start-up flies Nedlands nest

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

Stuart McKinnon | The West Australian

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Nader Issa and Michaël Roelens of Terra15 with their Treble system

A fledgling Perth firm pioneering new monitoring technology has become the first company to emerge from a Nedlands-based business incubator set up by Perth mining entrepreneur Charlie Bass.

Terra15, which can monitor infrastructure such as pipelines, railways, roads and oil and gas wells using existing fibre optic cable, has left the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation to take up office space on St Georges Terrace.

Nader Issa and Michael Roelens set up the company only three years ago but it already has a client list including some of the biggest mining and oil and gas companies operating in WA.

Terra15’s system connects with one end of a fibre optic cable and monitors vibrations by measuring varying light signals from every point along the cable.

Mr Issa said the technology could detect leaks or illegal tapping along specific areas of pipelines and send alerts to the owners. The same system could be used to monitor the health of a railway line, a train and its carriages or as a seismic sensor for exploration and reservoir monitoring of an oil and gas well.

“The beauty of our technology is that we’re able to use any standard existing optical fibre that may already be installed,” Mr Issa said.

He said it was fairly common for optical fibre cables to be buried alongside existing infrastructure.

“We can connect to any of that fibre, with permission of course, and use it for a purpose for which it wasn’t originally designed,” Mr Issa said. “We add functionality to it by using that existing infrastructure as a large sensing array.”

Mr Issa said the company’s market and vision was global.

He said Terra15 was grateful to CERI for the opportunity it had offered the company.

“In a nutshell, it’s just a really wonderful place to take an idea from zero to one,” he said. “It’s a great launching pad to get your idea off the ground.”

Established in 2015, CERI offers educational programs, mentorship, incubator space and networking opportunities for start-ups in WA.

Mr Roelens said Terra15 had expanded to a staff of 10 and had outgrown CERI, but he was keen to give back to the centre and mentor other early-stage entrepreneurs.

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