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Boeing Shifts HorizonX Investment Arm to Partnership With AE Industrial Partners

By Calvin Biesecker | August 6, 2021

Photo: Via Satellite illustration

Boeing on Thursday said it has entered a strategic partnership with the private equity firm AE Industrial Partners (AEI) to manage and expand its HorizonX venture capital arm that has already made minority investments in 40 startups and technology companies globally since Boeing founded it in 2017.

AEI HorizonX will be led by Brian Schettler, who led the ventures team for Boeing, and the current portfolio of investments will stay with the fund. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but industry sources told Defense Daily the fund has several hundred million dollars and “significant capital” to make new investments.

AEI invests in technology companies in the aerospace and defense industries, identity solutions and data analytics. The firm owns Redwire, a space company built through a number of acquisitions over the past year. Redwire is in the process of going public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger.

Boeing said it will continue to be a long-term strategic investor in AEI HorizonX and remain the anchor investor for the current fund and AEI HorizonX’s first standalone fund planned for 2022.

Boeing’s Enterprise Technology Office and Applied Innovation Team will partner with AEI HorizonX and will continue to connect Boeing’s technical capabilities with the existing portfolio of startups and future investments within AEI HorizonX and bring innovations back into Boeing.

“The partnership with AEI and future partners broadens our investor base, enables HorizonX to invest at a rapid pace and gives Boeing access to more outside innovation than ever through this investment collaboration,” Marc Allen, chief strategy officer and senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Boeing, said in a statement.

Boeing’s last publicly announced investment by HorizonX was early in 2019, not long after the first of two 737 MAX passenger plane crashes that beset the company for the last two years with worldwide groundings of the aircraft and a halt in deliveries. On top of that challenge, Boeing, along with the rest of the commercial aerospace industry, suffered for the past year from a worldwide slowdown in air traffic stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the past investments HorizonX made were in startups focused on additive manufacturing, advanced engines, satellite communications and satellite propulsion, unmanned systems and related technology, hypersonics and advanced computing. The minority investments were made to help startups further develop and test their technologies, including with the help of Boeing technical experts, while at the same time availing Boeing to leading-edge developments in the aerospace and defense industry.

“The AEI HorizonX platform will provide us with a foundation to build out a new investing pillar focused on transformative businesses and technologies critical to the evolution of our target markets and their impact on the environment,” David Rowe, managing partner at AEI, said in a statement.

This article was originally published by our sister publication Defense Daily.