START UPS developing a laboratory on a microchip and pipelines that zip together are set to win up to £100,000 backing under a scheme to foster technologies it is hoped could help transform the North Sea oil and gas industry.

The lab on a chip from RAB Microfluidics and pipeline sealing systems under development at Tubular Sciences won the firms concerned places on the Tech X Pioneer accelerator programme launched by the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

The firms will be joined by eight others in the first cohort of participants on the intensive 16-week programme.

“The Pioneers are technology start-ups with solutions that could transform the future of the oil and gas industry,” said the OGTC.

The accelerator is a flagship initiative of the OGTC, which was established in 2016 with £180 million official backing amid the deep downturn in the North Sea triggered by the sharp fall in oil prices since 2014.

TechX director David Millar said the accelerator represented a significant opportunity to develop a new technology supply chain anchored in the North East of Scotland.

He predicted the first participants would set a benchmark in technology development that positioned the programme as the leading accelerator for companies hoping to break into the oil and gas industry.

Participants will get £25,000 seed funding and the chance to secure a further £75,000 during the 16-week scheme. On completion of the programme, they will move into an incubator for 12 months.

The OGTC said two companies with the most exciting potential could win a further £100,000 funding from BP.

David Gilmour, vice president of the BP Ventures technology investment operation, said the ideas presented by the first wave of TechX Pioneers showed the quality of talent taking part in the programme.

He added: “Accelerating innovative thinking and developing new technologies and solutions is a key objective at BP to allow us to maintain and develop our business both in the North Sea and beyond.”

Some 125 entrepreneurs applied to participate in the first TechX programme.

Led by a former head of Centrica’s North Sea business, Colette Cohen, the OGTC aims to promote the development of technologies it reckons could help address key challenges such as maximising the recovery of oil from small pools.