Boeing has launched a new venture fund that will invest in aerospace technology, innovations in manufacturing, and cutting-edge business models.
Known as Boeing HorizonX, the so-called “innovation cell” will look at companies that expect to hit the market with a product within 5 to 15 years.
“The name is unique and purposeful,” said HorizonX vice president Steve Nordlund, “as our mission is really to look beyond the horizon for us and the company from an innovation standpoint.”
The fund’s first two investments are in Zunum Aero and Upskill.
Zunum is a Kirkland, Washington-based startup that is developing hybrid-electric passenger planes. Zunum expects to disrupt the regional transportation market by the early 2020s with 10- to 50-seat planes that will utilize the United States’ 5,000 regional airports, potentially slashing prices and door-to-door times in half.
Upskill is based in Washington, D.C., and develops enterprise software for augmented reality wearables. Boeing has already been working with Upskill on initiatives that have helped the aviation giant cut the time required to wire its planes by as much as 25%.
Nordlund said there’s no clear plan for additional investments. The fund will put its resources into companies that are pursuing interests that align with those of Boeing. Those include artificial intelligence and machine learning, autonomy, and additive manufacturing. HorizonX is also intended to support a major global services business unit that Boeing will be launching later this year.