Boeing Creates Venture Fund, Invests in 2 Aerospace Firms

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Joining a stampede of established, large-cap firms, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) announced Wednesday morning that the company has created an “innovation cell” to invest in a variety of “potentially transformative aerospace technologies, manufacturing innovations and emerging business models.” A venture funding group is a part of the innovation cell that Boeing calls HorizonX.

Boeing also announced its first two venture investments. The first is a Washington, D.C., firm named Upskill that makes enterprise software for augmented reality wearables. Boeing said it has been working with the firm for two years to “evaluate the use of [Upskill’s] technology across multiple locations nationally.”

The other deal was a joint investment with JetBlue Technology Ventures in a firm named Zunum Aero, a Kirkland, Washington-based firm developing alternative propulsion aircraft.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, said:

Our ability to identify, shape and harness game-changing innovations wherever they are developed is key to sustaining and growing our leadership in aerospace. Boeing HorizonX is tasked with ensuring we are fully engaged with opportunities from early-stage companies, market trends and emerging technologies while also fostering more rapid and effective internal innovation.

Boeing HorizonX will have three focus areas: making targeted investments in new ventures and startups, seeking unique business opportunities for the company’s aerospace technology, and assessing disruptive innovations and business strategies.

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Greg Smith, to whom HorizonX chief Steve Nordlund will report, said:

The Boeing HorizonX team will build on Boeing’s advanced technology and depth of aerospace expertise in design, development and manufacturing while bringing in outside perspectives and leveraging the speed and agility of a wide range of companies and research organizations. As part of our company strategy to accelerate growth and productivity, we intend to be flexible and move quickly to identify technologies, business models and market opportunities that hold the promise of creating and delivering more value for our customers and other stakeholders.

The HorizonX group has its own website describing the other parts of the new initiative.

Boeing shares traded 0.7% higher Wednesday morning to $179.98, in a 52-week range of $122.35 to $185.71. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $177.71.