Six months after their initial launch, the Silicon Valley-based Ventures fund and the A³ outpost of Airbus Group (stock exchange symbol: AIR) have become fully operational, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tom Enders told participants of the 2016 Digital-Life-Design conference in Munich.
In late May 2015, Airbus Group had announced a plan to establish its Silicon Valley operations with a fully independent venture capital fund and an innovation center, which has been branded A³ by Airbus Group. The Group had appointed Tim Dombrowski as CEO of Airbus Venture Capital and Paul Eremenko as CEO of A³.
Airbus Ventures has now completed its core leadership team set-up and is operating with a $150 million commitment from Airbus Group. The fund’s mission is to identify and invest in the most visionary entrepreneurs in the global aerospace ecosystem. Just recently, Airbus Ventures has made a first investment in Local Motors, a Phoenix, Arizona-based motor vehicle company that combines open-innovation development and micro-manufacturing. Local Motors operates with a growing global network of micro-factories and the funds invested by Airbus Ventures are slated for the firm’s set-up of micro-factories and laboratories in Germany with a focus on aerospace.
Based in San Jose, California, A³ (“A-Cubed”) is an organization optimized for speed of execution and tolerance of risk, while maintaining strong linkages to the Airbus Group core businesses. A³ is charged with harnessing the Silicon Valley ecosystem to pursue opportunities for technological, business model, manufacturing, and other types of disruption with the goal of disrupting Airbus Group and its Divisions, as well as the rest of the industry. Having fully staffed its management team, A³ is now focused on launching a series of projects aimed at delivering demonstrators at convincing scale on aggressive timelines, as well as supporting rapid partnership pilots for Airbus Group in Silicon Valley and globally. A³ also supports Airbus Ventures with technical due diligence and provides technology expertise to portfolio companies.
As one of its first projects, A³ is collaborating with terrestrial mobility provider Uber on a market pilot to provide an on-demand transportation service using Airbus Group’s H125 and H130 helicopters – with a goal of proving out a new business model for helicopter operators to access a broader customer base.
“Paul Eremenko and Tim Dombrowski have reported for duty in 2016 with a fully operational innovation center and ventures fund. That`s a great achievement in record time and I am glad to see that both have already lined up promising projects and investments”, said Tom Enders. “Although they’re located in the Silicon Valley, both organizations will operate on a global scale and their objective is nothing less than to disrupt ourselves. Clearly, digitalization is a prerequisite for successful innovation in the future. I am glad to see that from where we have come only a year ago, the spirit of innovation in the company has made a huge leap forward and will keep on doing so in 2016.”
The Airbus Ventures core leadership team is composed of Tim Dombrowski, who serves as Managing General Partner. He is joined by Heikki Makijarvi General Partner and venture capital veteran from Accel Partners and T-Venture of Deutsche Telekom, as well as Thomas D’Halluin, who serves as COO, having previously held management positions at Airbus in China and Toulouse.
In addition to Paul Eremenko, the A³ leadership team consists of his deputy, Eduardo Dominguez-Puerta, who recently joined the team from Airbus in Toulouse where he was a senior executive responsible for the implementation of lean manufacturing and for supply chain development.
Other notable hires include Rodin Lyasoff, who joined A³ from Airware and previously headed flight software development at Zee.Aero, and who serves as a project executive focusing on autonomous flight. Joshua Walker joined as the A³ General Counsel and also serves as a project executive in legal innovation. Josh was the founder of Lex Machina, a start-up focused on the application of big data analytics to legal decision-making, was on the faculty at Stanford and Berkeley, and was most recently a partner in the law firm Greenberg Traurig.