From Research Laboratory to international company - the story of FEI Australia
FEI Australia, founded in Canberra in 2008 as Digitalcore, is based on technology developed by ANU in collaboration with the University of New South Wales. Using its 3D technology to produce digital images and simulations of fluids in rock samples, FEI Australia works closely with some of the world’s largest resources companies, providing them with crucial information on the best way to extract oil and gas.
During its development, FEI Australia benefited from various programs supported by the ACT Government. This included $1 million from ANU Connect Ventures and $780,000 from the Canberra Business Development Fund.
In addition to $20,000 in funding, the Trade Connect program also assisted FEI Australia in its international expansion, which saw the company win the Emerging Exporter category in the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards in 2012.
In 2013 Digitalcore merged with a Norwegian company and raised more than $10 million in new equity investment from European investors. In 2014 the company was purchased by US-based FEI Company for AU$76 million and changed its name to FEI Australia. The purchase resulted in a significant return to investors including ANU, which received $11 million, representing a five-fold return on its original investment.
This allowed ANU to further develop its research in this field and put in place licensing arrangements to commercialise its 3D scanning micro CT technology. The University’s development of the technology and association with FEI has generated more than $40 million in research funding.
At the time of its sale, FEI Australia employed 18 people in Canberra. It is now a significant player in its international market and has more than doubled its number of employees in Canberra to 42. FEI Australia operates an internship and work experience program and currently employs 10 ANU graduates. It has also used the ACT Government’s Business and Skilled Migration program to attract and employ qualified and skilled international workers.