The ExxonMobil (FC)2 Alliance: Translating Ideas From Low-Risk Cultivation Space into the Technology Value Chain
Agar, Susan *1; Alway, Robert 1; Benson, Gregory S.1; Steffen Braksmaa, Kelley 1; Bova, John 1; Gulden, Lindsey 1; Harris, Christopher E.1; Hehmeyer, Owen 1; Kaczmarek, Stephen 1; Rosero, Enrique 1; Shekhar, Ravi 1; Stafford, Sherry L.1; Willingham, Thomas 1
(1) ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, Houston, TX.
In traditional consortium models, universities offer research projects for support by multiple Oil and Gas (O&G) companies. This leveraged approach provides a valuable and relatively low-cost "window" to new research developments. However, unless the sponsoring companies are closely involved, the translation of basic research advances into technical applications is unlikely to occur. At the other end of the spectrum, O&G companies may seek proprietary relationships to commercialize proven technology. The costs and risks tend to be higher, with formalized partnerships committed to tangible technologies. Between these situations, there exists a vast space in which novel ideas struggle to find a path from academia to an industry application. There is a clear need to cultivate ideas in this space and guide them to valid technology value propositions. For this purpose, we have developed low-risk cultivation space through an Academic-Company Alliance called “(FC))2”.
The (FC)2 Alliance is a thematic research framework for "Fundamental Controls on Flow in Carbonates". Key elements include: a clear research theme, a competitive selection process, diversity, mutual benefits, flexibility and shared risk. The Alliance involves geoscientists and engineers in the Coordinating Company and researchers from 13 universities. This scale serves to cultivate ideas through new connections that develop as researchers in different fields identify common interests and complementary capabilities. An options approach enables all parties to explore collaborations at low initial risk and cost.
Examples from the last four years show the ways by which ideas were cultivated and translated into the technology value chain, emphasizing the value of the low-risk Alliance environment to academic entrepreneurs. Time invested to educate academic partners on technical and business priorities has reaped benefits in terms of readiness and alignment. Conversely, engagement between academic partners and industry scientists has broadened awareness of external opportunities and capabilities. The implementation of the (FC))2 model challenged established organizational paradigms, emphasizing the value of cross-disciplinary communication over organizational boundaries. Furthermore, the full value of this model may not be realized without appropriate change management in the Coordinating Company and individuals with the appropriate skills and experience to manage the industry-academic interface.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90141©2012, GEO-2012, 10th Middle East Geosciences Conference and Exhibition, 4-7 March 2012, Manama, Bahrain