New Boeing Venture Arm Invests in Virginia Augmented Reality Firm

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Boeing HorizonXThe Boeing Company stood up a new venture arm and announced investments in two early stage companies including an augmented reality software firm based in Virginia.

Called HorizonX, Boeing’s new innovation cell and venture arm will invest in “transformative aerospace technologies, manufacturing innovations and emerging business models,” company officials announced this month.

Upskill, formerly APX Labs, designs enterprise software for augmented reality devices. Based in Herndon, Va., Upskill was chosen by HorizonX leaders to receive the first of two investments after Boeing started working with the design firm for the past two years.

Upskill developed the industrial AR application platform called Skylight, which projects necessary information onto the lenses of workers smart glasses. Company officials say a pilot in a wiring harness assembly operations facility resulted in a “25 percent improvement in production time and improved first-time quality.”

Boeing’s investment in Upskill was part of the Upskill’s Series B round announced by the company on April 5. Other investors in Upskill include GE Ventures, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), SineWave Ventures, and others.

“A key motivation of Boeing and GE’s investments are the results both companies already see using Skylight in real-world applications across their business,” Upskill founder and CEO Brian Ballard wrote. “Boeing is experiencing quality and productivity savings north of 25 percent in complex manufacturing scenarios, and is quickly scaling our technology to other parts of the business to support MRO and distribution.”

Along with Upskill, Boeing also invested in Zunum Aero, a Washington-based company developing alternative propulsion aircraft.

“Our ability to identify, shape and harness game-changing innovations wherever they are developed is key to sustaining and growing our leadership in aerospace,” Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO, said in a press release.

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