Professor Tim Senden with the Research School of Physics and Engineering rock x-ray machine.
A high-tech start-up set up by The Australian National University and University of NSW has been sold for $76 million.
The company, Canberra-based Lithicon AS, has been sold to the United States-based FEI Company, which specialises in imaging technology for oil and gas exploration.
The sale is the most significant commercial spin-off for the ANU in ten years, with university coffers to receive $11 million from the sale proceeds, representing a five-fold increase in its original investment. UNSW will receive $4 million.
Lithicon director and ANU Pro-Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Advancement, Professor Michael Cardew-Hall.
The director of the start-up Lithicon is also ANU Pro-Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Advancement, Professor Michael Cardew-Hall.
He said the deal proved that Australian universities could grow a start-up company and work cooperatively with industry to build a successful business.
“The deal also delivers a healthy return to private and corporate investors, and Lithicon’s Norwegian partners.”
Lithicon, previously known as Digitalcore, was originally set up in 2009 by ANU scientists in collaboration with colleagues at UNSW to develop an advanced computational approach to rapidly solving fluid behaviour in oil reservoirs.
They came up with a revolutionary high-resolution 3D imaging technique with FEI planning to develop new markets outside oil and gas using the imaging technology.
The technology produces digital 3D images and simulations of fluids in rock samples - giving companies crucial information to help them work out the best way to extract oil and gas.
Prior to the start-up, researchers at ANU and UNSW created a research consortium with 14 multinational oil and gas companies to prove and develop the emerging technology and allow the concept to be market tested.
Lithicon general manager Dr Victor Pantano said “The Lithicon story is one of taking world-class research from two of Australia's best universities and turning it into a growing business. In the process we have created a whole new industry segment based on high-value, intensive, knowledge-based services. It's exactly the sort of thing we should be doing in Australia and we need more of it".
Today, Lithicon AS employs 18 people in Canberra and markets its services to resource companies around the world.
In addition to the $11 million from the sale, which will be reinvested in the university, ANU will receive royalties from FEI under a licensing and development agreement.