Boeing has decided to lend wings to startups. The company has set up a brand new venture capital arm and has already invested in two tech startups. This is in keeping with the recent trend of investing in startups, that tech behemoths have caught on as a way of keeping up with emerging technologies.
The new division is known as HorizonX and has already invested in Upskill and Zunum Aero. The former is Washington based software firm that deploys augmented reality eye wear to help assembly workers. In case you are wondering how, well, it provides them with ready instructions right in front of their eyes while they are attempting complex tasks — for example, creating wiring bundles for Boeing jets. We actually covered how Boeing employees are using Google Glass to construct aircraft wire harnesses earlier, and this particular startup works along similar lines.
Upskill has been involved with Boeing for well over two years, and the company’s systems have already move beyond pilot tests and into production. The startup also counts General Electric as its backers and has shown massive, triple digit growth.
Zunum Aero on the other hand, is a company that is working upon an electric-hybrid aircraft that will make flying to regional airports significantly cheaper. The jets produced by this company will facilitate flights under 1,000 KMs and will be capable of carrying 10-50 passengers at a time. Ticket prices could also drop by almost 40-80 percent. The company hopes to get its first flight up and running by 2020.
Speaking about the investments and the HorizonX fund, Boeing spokesperson Chaz Bickers said:
But this initiative represents a multi-year commitment by Boeing to spend tens of millions of dollars a year to advance innovation and to supplement our research and development efforts. While the levels of investment generally are not material to Boeing’s financials, they generally will be to our target investments.
HorizonX will be headed by none other than Steve Nordlund, former vice president of strategy for Boeing’s defense, space and security businesses.