26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Iain Cooper, corporate venturing manager, Schlumberger

Iain Cooper had been managing technology investments for US-listed oil and gas company Schlumberger’s corporate venture capital (CVC) deals since 2007, after spending 15 years at the company previously in various roles after his university studies.

He departed from Schlumberger in August 2020 to take up a CEO role at gas sensor technology developer SeekOps, which is a portfolio company of Equinor Technology Ventures, a fellow energy company Equinor’s corporate venturing vehicle, and multicorporate-backed energy fund OGCI Climate Investments. Arindam Bhattacharya has replaced Cooper as the director of Schlumberger’s CVC group.

For more than a decade, Cooper had overseen early-stage technology scouting and CVC deals for Schlumberger. The team includes Tyler Durham, a venture principal who was one of Global Corporate Venturing Rising Stars in 2020.

Ashok Belani, executive vice-president (EVP) of technology of Schlumberger who is now EVP for the corporate’s new energy division, said last year: “The Schlumberger venture group is an integral part of the technology development ecosystem, which comprises science, engineering, universities, manufacturing, technology lifecycle management and startup companies.

“It has been a successful business venture, not only having led to commercial products and services, but it has also given Schlumberger a deep insight and network into a broad range of potentially impactful new technology domains outside of our traditional business areas.”

The executives had been “very supportive of our group during the downturn”, according to Cooper last year, who added: “We maintained a team of three during a downturn. No mean feat when you look at what happened to many of the other oil company VC groups.”

Schlumberger-backed tech companies include chemical analysis system developer 908 Devices, greenhouse gas emissions monitor GHGSat and workplace robotics technology provider Sarcos Robotics.

Former portfolio company Liquid Robotics, which develops autonomous maritime systems and robots, was sold to aerospace and defence company Boeing in December 2016, allowing Schlumberger to exit.

Under Cooper’s leadership, Schlumberger’s tech investment group had also backed wind energy technology developer Kite Power Solutions, waste heat-to-power technology developer Alphabet Energy and worker matching software platform developer Parsable in 2016.

Along with a diverse range of VC and CVC co-investors, Schlumberger has invested in seven industries – oil and gas, robotics, additive manufacturing, electric vehicles, clean energy, materials and cybersecurity.

Schlumberger has either development or commercial contracts with portfolio companies including shippable metallurgical system developer Molyworks, nanocrystalline cellulose producer CelluForce, enterprise cybersecurity technology producer Onapsis, engineering applications robotics systems developer Houston Mechatronics and Sarcos.

Cooper is a board member for energy technology venture forum Propel Energy Conference and forms part of the selection team for IT, sustainable and healthtech-focused event Banff Venture Forum. “I also developed our strategy for Schlumberger’s participation in the energy transition and how we participate in this space,” he added.

Cooper earned a PhD in meteorology from Reading University, before which he studied mathematics and physics at Bristol University. He joined Schlumberger as a research scientist in 1992 before working his way up to product development manager by 2007, when he founded the corporate venturing group. He keeps active on the creative side, granted with more than 50 US patents and a few more pending.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF