Unlocking the underground to build a better world
When asked about Seequent’s purpose, CEO Graham Grant puts it simply: “We’re helping people understand the underground.”
Although the significance of what lies beneath may not be immediately evident, nearly everything we encounter in life hinges upon it. The advancement of society relies on sturdy infrastructure, yet the ground beneath structures often presents risks and expense. Seequent’s software equips individuals with tools to gain insights into the concealed depths beneath our feet.
As Grant emphasises: “Virtually everything you come into contact with originates from the earth. From the pen in your hand to the minerals in your mobile phone, the subterranean plays an integral role in our day-to-day existence.” Recognising these interdependencies, Seequent strives to enhance understanding, mitigate risks and improve economies.
Originally stemming from a medical science company, Seequent ventured into the mining industry in 2003, introducing its pioneering software. Since then, the company has expanded its influence, successfully distributing its products in 120 countries. Notably, its software is used in 65 percent of the global geothermal power production industry, and it’s participating in infrastructure and environmental projects across the globe.
In the early stages, access to Callaghan Innovation grants for research and development enabled Seequent to invest proactively. “We were a bootstrapped business. We didn’t seek venture capital, angel investors or bank funding. We could only spend what we earned,” says Grant. These grants provided the certainty Seequent needed to hire more staff, develop exceptional products and explore new markets.
Seequent has also greatly benefited from Callaghan Innovation’s R&D Experience Grants, which enable tertiary students to serve as full-time interns over their summer break and gain real-world experience. “This programme has been very successful for both the students and our business,” says Grant. Every year Seequent found it was able to attract at least one former intern to join permanently, and in every case they have gone on to develop rewarding and successful careers.
It’s a game-changer. We’re likely the sole company worldwide with the opportunity to solve this, as most technology companies are confined to one realm – either infrastructure or the subsurface – but no one truly possesses both."
While pursuing commercial success, Seequent is equally committed to giving back. By integrating its software into projects where it can make a substantial impact, it strives to address real-world issues. Its software assisted in locating subsurface drinking water for 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar, and it collaborated with Groundwater Relief, a United Kingdom-based charity, to enhance freshwater management in water-stressed regions like Sudan.
With its recent acquisition by United States-based Bentley Systems for $1.4 billion, it has gained access to an extensive client base and is uniquely positioned to tackle the challenge of integrating infrastructure and subsurface knowledge. “With this integrated thinking, we can construct something far more intelligent than would otherwise be possible,” says Grant. “It’s a game changer. We’re likely the sole company worldwide with the opportunity to solve this, as most technology companies are confined to one realm – either infrastructure or the subsurface – but no one truly possesses both.”
Despite its growth, Seequent strives to maintain a sense of smallness, nurturing a culture that fosters innovation and collaboration. “It’s smallness, but not small mindedness, and I believe there’s a critical distinction.” By reframing its mindset as an international software company headquartered in New Zealand, rather than a New Zealand-based company exporting abroad, Seequent has been able to successfully expand its global presence while staying true to its values and mission.
Reflecting on Seequent’s growth, Grant underscores the importance of solving tangible problems and maintaining a clear market focus. For those getting started in the industry, he also emphasises the significance of building a strong organisational culture and adopting a forward-thinking approach, anticipating challenges and seeking guidance from experienced advisors and board members.
As Seequent continues to unlock mysteries underground and venture into new territories, the company’s unwavering dedication to building a better world endures.
At a glance
- Founded in 2003
- CEO is Graham Grant
- Headquartered in Christchurch, with 20 offices around the world and more than 700 staff
- Creates and integrates world-leading earth modelling, geo-data management and team collaboration software
- Acquired by United States-based Bentley Systems in 2021 for $1.4 billion
- Visit website
Callaghan Innovation impact
- Grants enabled proactive investment in more staff, product development and market exploration
- R&D Experience Grants provided valuable experience for students and new talent for Seequent’s business
- Intellectual property programme enabled strategy implementation to safeguard innovative technologies and assets