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Boeing to Invest $50M in New Aerospace Tech Venture Fund

By Calvin Biesecker | July 21, 2022

Photo: Via Satellite illustration

Boeing on Wednesday said it has agreed to provide $50 million to anchor a new aerospace technology venture fund that is privately-managed by the company’s partner AE Industrial Partners (AEI), a private equity firm.

The new investment in AEI HorizonX will be put toward the venture capital platform’s second fund, which aims to raise $250 million to invest in startups in future mobility, space, sustainability, digital enterprise applications, networks and security. AEI declined to comment on whether it has additional investors yet in Fund II.

Boeing created HorizonX in 2017 to invest in startups and technology companies developing on the cutting edge in areas such as space, autonomy, unmanned systems, 3D printing and rugged computing. When Boeing shifted HorizonX in August 2021 to a strategic partnership with AEI, the venture capital arm had already made minority investments in 40 companies.

AE Industrial Partners is an investor in Redwire and Firefly Aerospace through its private equity fund.

‘The AEI HorizonX platform has provided a key enabler for Boeing to partner with early-stage companies and accelerate the development and adoption of their technology,” Greg Hyslop, chief engineer at Boeing, said in a statement. “It’s all about the technology transitions, how we can partner with entrepreneurs to turn great ideas into deployed solutions across our products and services to better support our customers.”

The current portfolio of AEI HorizonX includes 51 global investments in companies working in artificial intelligence and machine learning, reducing the climate impact of aerospace systems, and data analytics. The portfolio includes companies in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia.

AEI HorizonX has also sold five of its investments, including UpSkill to TeamViewer, Morf3D to Nikon, Agylstor to Tsecond, and Cuberg to NorthVolt, and helped Virgin Galactic go public in 2019.

Boeing said the second fund will expand its access to critical innovations.

“The future of aerospace is digital, sustainable and autonomous,” Marc Allen, Boeing’s chief strategy officer, said in a statement. “This new Fund II builds on the foundation we have with Fund I and positions us to significantly expand our strategic access to disruptive technologies critical to shaping and realizing the future.”

AEI HorizonX’s investments give the startups access to Boeing’s talent and knowledge and in turn provide Boeing opportunities to adopt new technologies and capabilities across its aerospace and defense businesses.

AEI HorizonX’s most recent investment, announced July 14, is part of a Series B funding round with Shift5, which has developed data insight tools for operational technology. The new investment will help Shift5 gain traction in the aerospace and defense industries.

“By providing visibility into the data that powers their most expensive, longest-lived, and most consequential fleet assets, Shift5 allows rail, aerospace and defense companies to make data-informed decisions once considered impossible, to improve cybersecurity and increase operational efficiency,” AEI said.

Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized AE Industrial Partners’ investment in Firefly Aerospace and Redwire. Those investments are through its private equity fund. 

This article was first published by Via Satellite sister publication Defense Daily.