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Thursday, 6 November 2008 6:00 PM Edinburgh
The MTEM Story: How a Good Idea Became a Business and How Easily it Could Have Failed

Anton Ziolkowski, Chief Scientist, PGS EM

Royal Scots Club 29 Abercromby Place Edinburgh EH3 6QE Map

Sponsorship is provided by Wood Mackenzie.

This event occurred on: Thursday, 06 November 2008, 6 p.m.




MTEM Limited was started in November 2004 with ?7.4m investment from Scottish Equity Partners, Energy Ventures and Hitec Vision. It was the biggest-ever spinout from a Scottish university and Deal of the Year. In June 2007 MTEM was bought for $275 million by oilfield services company Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) in a deal that surprised many in the industry and which brought significant rewards to all its investors, including the University of Edinburgh which received about ?8.6 million in the transaction. A decade of research into transient electromagnetic exploration led to a new electromagnetic method for detecting hydrocarbons in the earth, co-invented by Anton Ziolkowski, his colleague Dr. Bruce Hobbs, and their PhD student David Wright. This method would help oil companies site future wells, cut drilling costs and save billions of dollars. In April 2003, they successfully won a Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Award to design, build and test a prototype system, going on to receive crucial advice and further funding from Scottish Enterprise at this critical time. Independently, Anton and Bruce recognised the need for acknowledged management experience and invited Leon Walker of Schlumberger to join them in MTEM as CEO. Anton will describe the process of starting the company from inside the University, raising the capital, developing the technology, and building the business to the point where it could be sold.


Anton Ziolkowski is Chief Scientist of PGS EM and holds the chair of Petroleum Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh. Anton invents and develops new geophysical methods for oil exploration. He co-founded MTEM Limited, a 2004 spinout from the University of Edinburgh, and was MTEM?s Technical Director until the company was bought by Petroleum Geo-Service in 2007. He was Headquarters Geophysicist to the National Coal Board and then consultant to the British National Oil Corporation before embarking on an academic career in 1982 as Professor of Applied Geophysics at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He moved to the University of Edinburgh to the new chair of Petroleum Geoscience in 1992 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1995. Many of his former students in Delft and Edinburgh now hold distinguished positions in academia, in oil companies, and in the oil-services sector, including PGS.

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