Boston Tech Watch: GE, Optimus Ride, Tufin, Zaius, Dispatch & More

This week in Boston tech, we’re tracking the latest moves by General Electric (in addition to its big CEO transition), Boston’s efforts to become a hub for driverless car development, the latest Boston-Israel business connection, and more. Read on for details.

—It was a busy week for GE (NYSE: GE). The giant Boston-based corporation named its next CEO, John Flannery, who will take the reins from Jeff Immelt later this summer.

Meanwhile, GE’s venture capital arm launched a new business, Boston-based Avitas Systems, that will use robotics, data analytics, and artificial intelligence-related technologies to aid inspections in the oil and gas, transportation, and energy industries. The announcement was made at a GE event in Berlin, where the company also announced new product offerings that take advantage of its $915 million acquisition of ServiceMax last year.

—More self-driving cars will soon be roaming the streets of Boston’s Seaport neighborhood. Auto parts supplier Delphi and MIT spinout Optimus Ride each received state and city approval to test their respective autonomous vehicle technology in the neighborhood, the Boston Globe reported. The two companies join NuTonomy, a Boston-based startup that spun out of MIT. Optimus Ride has tested its technology on the campus of the Perkins School for the Blind and inside the startup’s Seaport headquarters, the Globe reported.

Meanwhile, Optimus Ride raised nearly $1.1 million in debt funding, according to a new SEC filing. The round could reach $2 million.

—In other Seaport news, Neurala has moved out of Boston University’s Photonics Center and into an 8,000-square-foot office in the Seaport neighborhood, the Boston Globe reported. The A.I. software firm, which announced a $14 million funding round earlier this year, has about 25 employees and plans to grow to about 40 this year, the Globe reported.

Dispatch raised $12 million in a funding round led by GrandBanks Capital and ServiceMaster; other investors in the round included Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures, Salesforce, and Assurant, according to BostInno. Dispatch’s total venture capital haul is now $18 million. The company makes software for coordinating field service work, such as home appliance repair jobs.

—Zaius said it tacked on $6.5 million to a previously announced funding round, bringing the round’s total to $14.5 million. The investment in the Boston-based marketing technology startup was led by Underscore VC; Matrix Partners and Leaders Fund also contributed.

—Wellington Financial committed $24 million in debt financing to Boston-based Exari, which is helping to fund the company’s acquisition of U.K.-based Adsensa, announced last week. Beacon Equity Partners, an earlier investor in Exari, also contributed an undisclosed amount of capital to help fund the Adsensa deal. Exari sells business contract management software.

—Boston is adding to its cybersecurity cluster, thanks to another business connection with Israel. Cybersecurity firm Tufin announced it will open a U.S. headquarters in Boston. The new office will initially house around 20 employees, including CEO Ruvi Kitov, who is relocating from Israel. Tufin’s Tel Aviv office will remain its corporate headquarters. The Boston Business Journal has more on Tufin’s plans.

—Harvard president Drew Faust announced she will step down from the role in June 2018. She’s Harvard’s first woman president and supported a number of initiatives related to innovation and entrepreneurship, such as the Harvard Innovation Labs. It’ll be worth watching how her departure affects those programs.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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