Aarhus University spin-out acquired by global geoscience frontrunner
In July 2021, the Aarhus University spin-out, Aarhus GeoSoftware (AGS), proved successful enough to catch the eye of New Zealand headquartered company, Seequent. Now, AGS continues to operate from the centre of Aarhus as a part of Seequent’s portfolio.
“Hopefully this acquisition helps us develop new things and solve even more important societal challenges within water, civil, and resources” explains Director and founder of AGS, Toke Højbjerg Søltoft.
Toke started the company AGS together with three other researchers from the Hydro Geophysics group at the Aarhus University Institute of Geoscience. A group that so far has created four successful spinouts, SkyTEM Surveys, Aarhus Geophysics, Aarhus GeoInstruments and Aarhus GeoSoftware.
“At the beginning of the ’00s, the Danish Government funded a project, mapping the Danish groundwater reserve. From that research project, the software we use today was developed. I started working at the institute in 2013 and in 2015 when the project ended, we needed to commercialize the software for us to continue to develop it. That is when four of us was asked to commercialize the research as Aarhus GeoSoftware,” recalls Toke.
From researcher to businessman
Since then, Aarhus GeoSoftware has become experts in the ground beneath us. The team consists of eight geophysicists and software developers creating software solutions for processing, inversion and visualization of geophysical data. For Toke Højbjerg Søltoft, the company was a chance for him to explore the business side of research.
“It was an exciting new direction for me, allowing me to exit the research world,” says Toke and continues “it was very appealing to get to learn something completely new.”
Toke and AGS, however, maintains a strong collaboration with the University, “we want to be a part of the continuous research on this area, that takes place at the University. Our overall goal is to find new solutions,” he explains.
Innovation from within companies
Toke maintains his interest in research and hopes there will be room for even more development within AGS moving forward.
“Private companies can be a part of research. It demands some capital and some risks, because research is research, and there are no guarantees it will lead to a market-ready product,” he explains.
And nurturing research within GeoScience in Aarhus is an excellent opportunity.
“Aarhus is a bit of a Capitol within water, both within water mapping, clean water and how we solve the world’s challenges within flooding, water rising and extreme climate challenges,” states Toke.
He goes on to highlight the ecosystem of knowledge there is in startups, in the University and in the consultancy businesses within water in this area, as one of the reasons why AGS chose to stay in Aarhus after the acquisition.
“AGS could move to a different city or country, but we would risk losing important local partnerships, including the one with the University. So, we have no plans on leaving” explains Toke.
Over the past five years, AGS doubled their number of employees and provide solutions to just about all parts of the world. The future for Aarhus GeoSoftware is full of potential, and Director, Toke Højbjerg Søltoft, is happy to have taken the leap from researcher to startup founder.