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Halliburton buys local company, USC technology

By Mike Fitts
Published Feb. 18, 2011

In a coup for Columbia’s high-tech field, startup company Ometric has been bought by Halliburton Energy Services, along with top technology from the University of South Carolina.

Halliburton has paid USC $2.75 million to acquire the university’s scanning technology for use in the petrochemical field. No sale price for Ometric has been made public.

The purchase marks the first time a startup based on USC technology has been bought by a Fortune 500 company.

The sale is a sign that USC is bringing top-quality technology into the marketplace, said Pam Benicewicz, associate vice president for research and director of the intellectual property office at the university.

“This is a big success,” Benicewicz said.

Don Herriott, USC’s director of Innovista partnerships, said the deal highlights the potential of the Innovista concept and the market potential of USC’s intellectual property.

“This shows our commitment and success in commercializing the research of our scientists,” Herriott said in a statement. “This is exactly what a research university should be doing, taking research and translating it to the marketplace, where it can be applied to change lives, protect the environment and improve our health.”

The scanning technology, developed by USC chemistry professor Michael Myrick, allows a company to look inside a product or pipeline to check the chemical contents inside. Halliburton, for example, will be able to check the oil-to-gas ratio and other key details of an oil well right at the site, instead of sending samples to a lab to be tested, Benicewicz said. He said that should be more cost-effective and efficient for the company.

Halliburton paid to acquire patents and other intellectual property, but much of that has been licensed back to USC. Other companies in fields such as food production or pharmaceuticals could acquire the trademark Multivariate Optical Computing technology for quality control in their fields, Benicewicz said.

Myrick served as Ometric’s chief scientist with longtime business executive Walter Alessandrini as CEO. Ometric was privately held and listed several venture capital firms among its backers.

USC President Harris Pastides said the deal shows how the university can work with business and bring more jobs to South Carolina though partnerships.

“By working with a Fortune 500 company, we have demonstrated our capacity to meld research and entrepreneurship and expect that this will lead to opportunities to work with other major companies, which will result in major investments in the Midlands to create jobs and improve the lives of citizens in our state,” Pastides said in a statement.

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