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Meet Airbus Ventures, A “Pure-Play” Aerospace Venture Firm

by • January 15, 2016 • No Comments

In late spring last year, the Netherlands-based aerospace and defense giant Airbus Group revealed a $150 million corporate venture capital fund.

Currently, which fund, Airbus Ventures, revealed its initially bet, on an eight-year-old, Phoenix-based company called Local Motors which uses 3D printing to manufacture appliances and road-ready vehicles.

Our interest piqued, we talked earlier at the present time with Airbus Ventures CEO Tim Dombrowski — who earlier worked as a partner at Andreessen Horowitz and as a director of global business development at Hewlett-Packard — to learn additional of what he’s up to. Our chat has been edited for length.

Airbus Ventures Managing General Partner Tim DombrowskiTC: How did you initially connect with Airbus?

TD: I was recruited into Airbus Group. They had a big executive team come out to the Valley to investigate what else they may be doing around technology and they came away with a couple of ideas, which include which begining a venture business may donate them a real purview into the venture ecosystem. They in addition wanted to begin this technology center where they may work on projects.

TC: That technology center is located in downtown San Jose. You’re on Sand Hill Road. How closely do you work with which team?

TD: We talk if I have deep inquiries having to do with technical diligence. If they’re assembling projects which may a few day have an exit, I want to talk [with them] of those sorts of things.

TC: Did Airbus staff its technology center with Airbus employees or did it seek new blood of Silicon Valley?

TD: I ponder of one in ten folks came of Airbus, but they quite scoured the landscape for ability. They’re largely engaging with universities and the government and the industry across Airbus’s donate chain to work on projects.

TC: It sounds like they have a strategic mandate to assist Airbus. Do you, as well?

TD: We’re an independent, financially-driven venture outfit, full stop. Airbus is my sole LP, and [I’m interested in technologies which are complementary to its interests], but I am the investment committee. There are no other committees which sit above me. No sponsorship is required. We have the freedom to move quickly.

TC: Who is we? How big is your team, and are you hiring?

TD: I am yet looking to hire a GP. In the meantime, there’s one other GP, Heikki Mäkijärvi, a Silicon Valley veteran who was long a venture partner with Accel Partners and who was additional not long ago chairman of T-Venture, the corporate venture fund of Deutsche Telekom. We’ve known equite other for five years — we met while I was at Andreessen Horowitz — and he has a excellent belief of both independent VC and corporate venture.

TC: What types of companies are you looking to fund?

TD: We may be the only pure play aerospace VC which’s out there. That said, we are interested in any company which wants to penetrate which marketplace, so anything having to do with aircraft — meaning commercial, military, helicopters, commence vehicles, rockets, satellite constellations — as well as hardware, software and systems, cybersecurity and safety, the Internet of things, connected factories, data analytics synonymous with sensor systems, the networking and telecommunications synonymous with connecting those things together . . .

TC: What dimensions checks are you writing?

TD: We’ll mostly be investing into Series A and B deals, and the check dimensionss can have to be appropriate to the overall dimensions of the round. But we want to create a big portfolio. We don’t want to be left with three or four investments.

TC: How does your new investment in Local Motors play into your investment theme?

TD: As part of our investment thesis, we ponder of advancements taking place in product development, and one of those is 3D printing. As we’ve looked into which, Local Motors only kept popping up. 3D printing is not the core of what they do, but it’s a big part of their making system and lets them create products quickly. So we ponder the company is a excellent financial investment, but we in addition like which what they are doing may be accretive for our LP. [Local Motors] has may already begun talking with Airbus of advancing its product development and how to speed product introductions.

We’re getting quite excited by the road ahead. There’s so much untapped opportunity in the next of flight which we hope not actually the sky is the limit here.

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