Darwin Innovation Hub’s annual flagship event, Croc Pitch, found some entrepreneurs and growing businesses that have a scalable innovation, product or technology that will provide a direct benefit to the Northern Territory.
Seventeen semi-finalists attended the Croc Camp prior to the main event to help perfect their pitch with advice on how to capture the judges and audiences’ interests in three minutes. On the 27th of October 2021, Victorian company Amphibian Aerospace Industries Pty Ltd (AAI) pitched at Croc Pitch and won the first prize of $1 million in venture capital!
“Croc Pitch 2021 was a great experience. Not only did we come away as the winners, but we were introduced to a number of other start-ups which we hope to collaborate with in the future. Winning $1M from the Paspalis Innovation Investment fund will enable us to open our office in Darwin and make a start. Consequently, Croc Pitch 2021 represents a pivotal moment in the life of Amphibian Aerospace Industries.
Croc Camp, conducted prior to the pitch, was a very constructive activity. I am certain that the other competitors would agree, covering the complexity of a start-up business in under 3 minutes is not easy. Geoff Thomas provided some great tips and advice on how to focus our presentations to achieve the best results.
Croc Pitch was exceptionally well run, especially in light of the constraints created by Covid-19. Competitors from across Australia and overseas, were able to dial-in to view all the presentations and hear the judges’ feedback. This was particularly helpful as the questions posed by the judges covered a wide range of issues to be considered by start-ups.
Amphibian Aerospace Industries Pty Ltd would like to thank the Darwin Innovation Hub and the Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund. We are looking forward to working closely with them over the coming years as we build a new aircraft manufacturing industry in the Northern Territory.”
– Dan Webster, CEO of AAI
The company was established as the manufacturing and product development arm of the Australian owned Amphibian Aircraft group of companies. The vision for AAI is to be a world leader in the development and production of amphibian aerospace capabilities – they provide useful capacity and speed at unmatched affordability. AAI is the holder of U.S. Federal Aviation Administration “Type Certificate” for the HU-16 and G-111 Albatross amphibious aircraft.
The Albatross family is a boat that flies with landing gears that looks like a frog. When the aircraft lands in water, it can put its landing gear in the water and drive up a boat ramp. The landing gear can also be put on a normal runway. It’s truly a hybrid aircraft, needing water and land – the location requires an airport for crafting and is close enough to water for development.
Amphibian Aerospace Holdings intends to secure a niche in the global aviation industry as the manufacturer of the Albatross family of amphibian aircraft. Building upon an existing, proven and US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) certified design, the Albatross family of aircraft will include variants certified for commercial, government, defence and emergency service applications. They also have the design of a hydrogen fuel cell powered fully electric version on the drawing board.
With the help of Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund investing $1 million into AAI, the company will upgrade the existing piston engine version of the Albatross with new PT6A-67F Pratt & Whitney turbo prop engines. This Turbo prop version, known as the G-111T with a 28-seat capacity, will be the only FAA certified amphibian aircraft offering more than 19 seats. This passenger capability, and its capacity to transport 4.5 Tonne of freight, will enable air operations to service areas that lack traditional land-based aerospace infrastructure.
This will be the first aircraft in this commercial category to be manufactured in Australia and presents an exciting opportunity to build a new industry and its associated supply chain creating follow-on benefits for education, employment and the economy. The new development will be attracting many local jobs in the Northern Territory with AAI suppliers looking to relocate and set a base in Darwin along with Dan Webster, CEO of AAI. Dan will be be bringing their aircrafts from Melbourne and another from Florida to Darwin, sometime around March. The plan from here is to have the modified aircraft certified within 18 months and production commenced in Darwin within four years with full relocation completed in five to six years.