U of C start-up bought by multinational

By Chris Adams

An on campus tech-start up coming from humble beginnings has been bought by one of the largest oil and gas corporations in the world.

A University of Calgary “spinoff” company called Gushor Inc. was sold to the Houston-based multinational Schlumberger, the world’s largest oil services company.

Gushor’s staff of 17 largely consists of U of C alumni and was formed as a joint venture between students from Schulich School of Engineering and the geosciences department. However, Gushor has operated independently of the U of C since 2011 and receives no grant money for research projects.

“The U of C has a long history of offshoot companies getting sold to larger corporations,” said Steve Larter, a former CEO of Gushor, U of C geoscience professor and Canadian Research Chair in Petroleum Geology. “It’s all a part of the process.”

According to Larter, the U of C aims to develop successful offshoot energy companies modeled after the relationship between Stanford University and tech companies in Silicon Valley.

“The U of C fulfils the same role in the energy sector that Stanford does for the tech industry,” he said. “The majority of spin-offs fail commercially. But if you have got 10 times as many start-ups, you’ve got twice as many Googles.”

Gushor’s breakthrough as a company came with their “plunger” — now the industry standard in hydraulic jacks. The device was developed at the U of C and produces lower emissions than previous hydraulic jacks while extracting oil more efficiently.

Schlumberger’s interest in Gushor is based both on the “plunger” and their other technology. According to Larter, the acquisition will allow Gushor’s technologies to be applied more broadly given Schlumberger’s presence in over 85 countries.

“To get technology deployed at scale, you need big companies. That’s why smaller companies become bigger companies,” Larter said.

No information is available regarding the value of the sale.

Representatives from both Schlumberger and Gushor could not be reached for comment.


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