QSTAR ROV TRAINING & SUBSEA SOLUTIONS: Internacionalización bajo el mar
QSTAR ROV TRAINING & SUBSEA SOLUTIONS establecida en Canarias desde 2007 es una empresa especializada en servicios marítimos y submarinos que ofrece soluciones efectivas a las industrias Offshore y Onshore.
Realizamos proyectos en cualquier lugar del mundo y para ello contamos con personal altamente cualificado, buques de trabajo, equipos de inspección geofísica e hidrográfica y una amplia flota de ROV (Remote Operated vehicle, vehículos submarinos no tripulados).
Desde 2012 la empresa cuenta con el primer centro de formación de Pilotos y Supervisores de ROV en España, QSTAR ROV TRAINING CENTER. Este centro desde sus comienzos forma parte del IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association) en su división “Remote Systems & ROV” en las regiones de Europa y África. IMCA es la organización internacional que establece las recomendaciones bajo las cuales se rige la industria. Nuestra formación se imparte en condiciones reales siguiendo las recomendaciones del IMCA y cumpliendo con estándares de alta calidad y seguridad tanto en el centro como a bordo del buque multipropósito “Atlantic Explorer”. El centro recibe más de 80 alumnos al año procedentes de diversas partes del mundo, principalmente Latinoamérica y Europa.
Los proyectos con ROVs y las campañas oceanográficas y de investigación marina que QSTAR ha acometido durante estos años, junto con la colaboración con varias insitituciones nacionales han convertido a la empresa en un referente en este sector en Canarias y en el resto de España. Desde el año 2012 la empresa se encuentra en proceso de expansión tanto desde el punto de la atracción de proyectos con clientes internacionales hacia las Islas como desde el punto de vista de la implantación de la empresa en otros mercados.
Which is the main activity of the company nowadays?
The main activities of the company are the following:
Submarine services: operations with ROV, Marine Geophysics projects, inspection, bathymetry, providing support in environmental, oceanographic and marine research projects.
Selling of ROV equipment: we distribute in Spain, Portugal and Latin America several international manufacturers’ brands of ROV such as AGEOTEC, EPRONS, AC-ROV, OUTLANDTECH.
Commissioners and installation of ROV systems onsite.
Training, QSTAR ROV TRAINING CENTER: Technical ROV pilot, ROV supervisor, further training and company training (in both the QSTAR centers and the customer’s facilities).
Why do you think that looking at the overseas markets is interesting for the business development?
In a sector like ours, looking at the foreign markets is a necessity. QSTAR has always had a strong professional vocation, due to the professional career of its founders and our internationalization consolidates as the submarine robotics starts to be one of the main areas of activity.
We think that starting an internationalization process can open big opportunities to the companies, provided that it is done in the adequate way, and contact with professionals and organizations that accompany you in this expansion.
An internationalization process, as the Directors of QSTAR say, is a process that involves learning, reflection, professional growth, consolidation of the business process, the search of new business opportunities and the competitiveness improvement. At least this is what it has been like for the development of the company.
Which projects are you currently carrying out abroad? In which countries and why?
Concerning the training area, we are now in an opening process of a new center in Barcelona. On the one hand, only the 15 % of the training students are Spanish, and only the 10 % of them is from the Spanish Mainland. These facts, together with other greater training projects we want to perform have led us to move into the Spanish Mainland. We needed a location known at the international level and attractive. Barcelona, due to its cosmopolitan character, good connectivity with relevant regions and the water conditions (very important to us) reunited the idyllic conditions for expanding our company.
A very important part of our internationalization strategy in the training field is focused on the attraction of international clients to our training center in Las Palmas. In the last year, apart from intensifying our recruitment process for the ROV pilots training center (especially in Mexico and Venezuela, North Europe, Western Africa and the Spanish Mainland) we have developed a training programme adapted to teenagers between 13 and 18 years old. We have already two groups of students enrolled from Puerto Rico (USA), through the collaboration with a local institution.
Mexico and Venezuela are markets historically linked to the Oil & Gas Sector and this is the most important sector in which the ROV have application. They are the biggest oil producers in the continent and, consequently, a huge part of their population is professionally linked to the sector. In Latin America there is no POV pilots training center member of the IMCA which trains in Spanish and, therefore, we have a very clear competitive advantage.
North Europe, until some years ago, had the 35 % of the ROV industry at the global level and many of the contractors have a European origin. Our main competence regarding training is concentrated here, but we are competitive in prices and quality, together with the fact that our geographic location in the Canary Islands is a plus for the students from these countries.
Western Africa is our area of influence by nature, in particular, Nigeria and Angola, which, due to the fact that they are the biggest oil manufacturers, concentrate a big number of people who work professionally in the Oil & Gas sector. The numerous information requests we receive through our website from potential students from Nigeria make us think that this is a market with an immense potential.
From the services point of view, we are nowadays in the process of consolidating in the Spanish Mainland market. To do this, we are also carrying out an implementation in the target market. We need to have the necessary equipment located in the Spanish Mainland in order to improve our response capacity in this market.
On the other hand, we have reached collaboration agreements with a national company and some international ones to design a greater services offer which can ensure better coverage to the contractors of the sector.
In this business area the Western Africa, USA and North Europe markets are closely related. Africa because it is the geographic area where the projects that QSTAR wants to access to are, and due to the necessity of existent civil work; USA and North Europe because they are the country of origin of most of the industry companies that operate in the African continent.
With regard to the selling of equipment, our goal is to strengthen relations with our international providers, extend the products portfolio and intensify the sales in the Spanish Mainland and Latin American markets. QSTAR is exclusive distributor of ROV equipment in Spain of the brands we work with. In the last months we have renewed contracts with the manufacturers and we have been designated distributors for Portugal and Latin America. These are markets in which we are currently working.
Which products or services do you think that are more interesting in order to internationalize a company?
The QSTAR internationalization strategy is focused on three main axes of work:
Axe 1. Training Center for Technical Pilots/ROV Supervisors (QSTAR ROV TRAINING CENTER).
Axe 2. Submarine services.
Axe 3. ROV equipment selling.
What problems have you faced when going abroad? How did you solve them? Did you find support?
When the QSTAR thought about getting into international markets, the main necessity was to increase the company’s structure with qualified workers and languages that could meet the potential increase of demand and help in the execution of this expansion process. Along these lines, he have increased our personnel with Technical ROV pilots, vessel’s crew and technical staff specialized in international trade and marketing.
On the other hand, the most problematic market we have had to face is Nigeria. Despite being our most strategic market for the training area, the problems in the visa granting caused by Spain have considerably hindered bringing Nigerian students to our Canarian center. We have placed the issue in Mr Pablo Martín Carbajal’s hands, General Director for African Affairs at Government of the Canary Islands and CEO of PROEXCA, and we have received a remarkable support from him. We are currently in the process of solving this problem.
During our internationalization process we have received support from diverse bodies. Chronologically, these supports have come from the Canarian Maritime Cluster, the SPEGC, PROEXCA and the Ministry of Economy, Industry, Trade and Knowledge of the Government of the Canary Islands. In 2015, we were the beneficiary company of the programme CANARIAS APORTA III; on one hand, we were granted a subsidy that allowed us to reinforce the internationalization strategy and, on the other hand, it offered us –through PROEXCA– specialized technical support, as well as institutional support.
Have you already achieved any accomplishment internationally?
As a result of starting our internationalization strategy, we are consolidating ourselves as a benchmark company in submarine robotic within the national and international market.
Our Managing Director, Mr José Mª Sepúlveda, is a member of one of the IMCA Committees, the Steering Training Group Committee, which gives us the opportunity of both obtaining first-hand information related to the sector and providing our experience to the industry.
Concerning the services that QSTAR offers, there are diverse projects we have performed with international clients (among our clients there are Repsol, Indra, Transocean, Venezuela Oil and Norico) and there are also some projects that we have currently under way in order to undertake them in 2016.
In the last year, we have sold 4 ROV equipments and, to conclude, in the training area we have made onsite training in Sudan and India and our training center has received more than 200 students from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Puerto Rico, Holland, Italy, Romania, Germany, United Kingdom, Norwegian, Canada, USA, among others.
I take this opportunity to say that QSTAR, together with HOSPITÉN ROCA, has accomplished the possibility of issuing OGUK medical certificates (UKOOA), necessary for the personnel of the offshore industry, for the first time in the Canary Islands.
Was entering into the foreign markets easy? How did your experience start?
The international expansion processes have never been easy. We have had some setbacks, but we are very tenacious. Therefore, despite the problems we could have had, we keep on being committed to internationalization.
Our experience started performing market investigations in those markets we considered more interesting, visiting some contacts and participating in some fairs in order to know the sector in detail. In the last year, we have designed an internationalization plan and we are currently carrying out this strategy.
Why would you recommend going abroad?
We recommend going to the foreign markets because the company possibilities increase exponentially. The possibilities of increasing the market share, better developing the professional activity due to the own requirements of the international market, and even expanding the business areas raise. It is true that the risk is there, but we think that the companies also have many tools and supports available in order to mitigate them.
Isabel Díaz Rebollo
Export Manager in QSTAR ROV TRAINING & SUBSEA SOLUTIONS
Tel: 928 914 813
Web: www.qstar.es / www.rovs.eu