SEATTLE Boeing Co (BA.N) said on Wednesday it had launched a venture capital arm and invested in two startup companies in a bid to stay abreast of rapidly evolving aircraft designs and factory technology.
The new division, known as HorizonX, invested in Upskill, a Washington, D.C.-based software company that uses Google Glass-type eye wear to help assembly workers complete complex tasks such as creating wiring bundles for Boeing jetliners.
It also invested in Zunum Aero, a Seattle-area company that is working on electric-hybrid aircraft aimed at bringing down the cost of flying to regional airports. Zunum also received funding from JetBlue Technology Ventures, a unit of the New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU.O).
Boeing declined to specify the investment amounts. “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,” spokesman Chaz Bickers said. “While the levels of investment generally are not material to Boeing’s financials, they generally will be to our target investments.”
Steve Nordlund, former vice president of strategy for Boeing’s defense, space and security business, will head HorizonX. Nordlund was involved in launching drone-maker Insitu Inc, which Boeing acquired in 2008. He also has worked in sales at IBM (IBM.N) and was chief information officer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by James Dalgleish)