You are here

University startup sells for $76 million

The $76 million sale of a revolutionary rock sampling technology is transforming the way oil and gas giants do core analysis.


The startup, Digitalcore Pty Ltd was founded by UNSW Australia and the Australian National University.  After merging successfully with a Norwegian company they formed Lithicon AS, which was sold to global leader FEI Company in 2014.

Today FEI is providing leading- edge digital rock technology services and equipment to companies worldwide for oil and gas exploration.

The sale generated $4 million return for UNSW and good commercial returns to UNSW researchers. Lithicon AS also employs 18 people in Australia.

The sale capped more than a decade of work by an ‘inventor group’ of professors, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students led by Professor Val Pinczewski and ANU counterpart Professor Mark Knackstedt.

For UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field, the Lithicon sale was a textbook case of technology transfer from lab to industry.

“It’s a good idea with sound underpinning of science and technology,” he says.

“But getting ideas into industry is about more than just having an idea. We not only needed the technical expertise but also some substantial business and business engagement skills.”

Lithicon owes its success to a confluence of factors.

Pinczewski believes the technology may not have come to fruition if it hadn’t been incubated in a university environment.

“In Australia we have such good universities and people that we can put together groups that are every bit as good – and in my view, better – than groups that private companies can put together to develop cutting-edge technological products,” he says.

To read more at the Uniken website.