Much is made of the commercial successes that academics achieve but what is rarely mentioned is those who enable their path to success. Dr Victor Pantano is one of those people.
Through fostering relationships and leading companies, Victor has become a mentor to many ANU students and alumni. His strong personal philosophy has created a successful business career in the oil and gas industry.
Once the Director of the ANU Office of Commercialisation, Victor has established and maintained a number of key strategic links for the University. In 2007, he used an emerging digital rock scanning technology created by ANU and the University of New South Wales, protected the intellectual property and maintained productive relationships with the members of Australia's largest industry consortium-which consisted of 22 multinational companies.
Recognising the opportunity to scale the ANU-developed scanning technology to support an analytical service, Victor co- founded Digitalcore Pty Ltd in 2009 after securing $3.5 million in funding.
After obtaining more funding from venture capitalists, Digitalcore expanded its client base into the US, the Middle East and Asia and by 2012, the company recorded revenue of more than $5 million.
In 2013, after Digitalcore won the Rio Tinto Eureka Prize for Commercialisation of Innovation, the company merged with Norwegian firm Numerical Rocks AS and branded Lithicon Pty Ltd. Lithicon was subsequently bought by imaging and analysis systems company FEI for US$68 million in 2014.
In total, Lithicon returned about $13 million to ANU and the research revenue of the group totalled close to $20 million. The proceeds have helped the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering establish two major endowments that aim to assist pre-commercial projects and enable visiting fellows to join ANU.
At every stage of building the company and liaising with stakeholders in ANU and industry, Victor showed strong leadership and creativity. He remains an integral part of the commercialisation area at ANU, he is still an ANU employee and is a mentor to several spin-off companies, ANU researchers and staff.