Professor's idea became innovative tech start-up

In 2012, Professor Malcolm Kelland's research turned into a spin-off company called Eco Inhibitors. Now, seven years later, the company has been acquired by Italmatch, a leading innovative chemical group.

Photo of Malcolm Kelland in front of lab equipment Professor Malcolm Kelland in the lab at UiS

“It's been a long and educational process with a lot of hard work. It’s good to see that results ranging from bachelor's to PhD and post-doctoral projects have been useful,” says Kelland.

Professor and inventor

Malcolm Andrew Kelland's career in chemistry started in his native country, where he studied at Oxford University from 1983 to 1990. He moved to Stavanger the following year to work for Rogaland Research, the predecessor of the present research institute, NORCE. He worked there for nine years.

In 2001, Kelland became a professor of inorganic chemistry at the University of Stavanger. He conducts research and development in energy, the environment and society, but what he perhaps is most known for is inventing environmentally friendly chemicals for the oil industry.

Environmentally friendly chemistry

For several years, Kelland has led the research community working on Green Oilfield Chemistry at UiS His research focuses on environmentally friendly chemicals, which are used to counteract the formation of gas hydrate (an ice-like substance stable under pressure) in pipes carrying oil and gas.

The chemicals that Kelland develops in his laboratory are better for the environment and employees' health than the antifreeze fluids methanol and glycol, which has previously been commonly used in the oil industry.

Norway's best lab

Kelland's research formed the basis for the company “Eco Inhibitors”, which he helped establish in 2011. Since then, the company has grown larger, receiving considerable support from the industry and from public funding schemes.

Through close collaboration with the industry, he has built the country's best laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment for developing and testing various products.

Successful commercialisation

Together with the other shareholders of Eco Inhibitors, NORCE Innovation has now sold the company to Italmatch, a leading innovative chemical group.

The sale is a good example of a successful commercialisation collaboration between NORCE Innovation, Prekubator TTO (now Validé), the University of Stavanger (UIS), external investor Wellwork Innovation and inventor, Professor Malcolm Kelland.

Great support

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in developing these new chemistry products at the lab, all the oil companies that supported our efforts, Validè and the team behind Eco Inhibitors, particularly Shona Grant and Kjartan Melberg, who have contributed so much over the past few years to make the sale possible,” says Kelland.

The development of the technology has also benefited greatly from the financial and technical support of Equinor and the Norwegian Deepwater Programme. Eco Inhibitors is also grateful for the financial support it received from Innovation Norway and the Research Council of Norway.

Text: Ida Løkås and Leiv Gunnar Lie
Photo: Leiv Gunnar Lie