Paul Allen co-founder of Microsoft recent said in a statement. “That’s the thing about new platforms: when they become easily available, convenient and affordable, they attract and enable other visionaries and entrepreneurs to realise more new concepts.”

The converse is also true, on your own without a platform, it’s a very hard road to get from concept to commercial product in the marketplace. Platforms are not that easy to build, they require a certain critical mass of capability, and a clear focus of not trying to be everything to everybody. Capability building costs money and time.

The science has to be understood and explored before it can be accessible and built upon and the other thing about platforms is that they need a commitment to building and sustaining them. They are not a short-term project.

But one challenge with platforms is that of themselves, they may be a step away from making lots of money in that they are really about “enabling” as Paul Allen said, though first they need to “become easily available, convenient and affordable”.

This is where entities such as HERA come in because for most small to medium enterprises the stretch both financially and logistically to build a platform and then get a return from it is beyond their resources.

The Above Ground Geothermal and Allied Technologies (AGGAT) programme which is focused on developing Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) solutions for the waste heat and geothermal markets is a perfect example of building a platform to enable others. It brings together the best of academia with practical engineering and the pace of industry.

The programme contains some unique capabilities which have been built up over the last four years and is now approaching the “easily available, convenient and affordable” stage. An assessment of the market shows that there are a range of niche opportunities where smaller focused companies can become significant players.

The real advantage for companies is that they do not have to invest in building a significant in-house team of expertise. Instead, they can leverage off the expertise already built in support of the platform, and by becoming a programme partner they can access this very cost-effectively. Applications to become a part of this exciting programme and to stake your claim on this fast-emerging market are open now.

First round applications close 31st July, so be quick.

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction,” Alvin Toffler, 1928 – 2016