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GE launches industrial-oriented startup in Boston

The General Electric logo appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Richard Drew)/Associated Press

Move over, Current. There’s a new GE startup in town.

General Electric on Tuesday unveiled its launch of Avitas Systems, a GE Ventures-backed subsidiary that will provide high-tech inspection services to industrial users such as electric utilities and oil rig operators.

GE’s venture arm invests in outside startups but also helps GE launch its own business lines. The most well-known example in Boston is Current, the energy and light startup that opened here more than a year ago. Around the time Current was launching, GE unveiled its decision to relocate its corporate headquarters to Boston from Connecticut.

About 50 people work for Current today, in a WeWork co-working space near South Station. They’ll move to GE’s new Fort Point headquarters campus after it’s completed in 2019, according to a GE spokesman.


For now, the company isn’t saying how many people will work locally for Avitas, and a chief executive still needs to be announced for the group. GE officials said the new startup will be based in GE’s interim headquarters on Farnsworth Street.

Avitas founder Alex Tepper, a GE Ventures executive who currently works in Connecticut and New York City, said the company picked Boston because of the wealth of talent here in the robotics, analytics, and artificial intelligence fields.

Tepper said he wants to harness the expertise that already exists in some of GE’s industrial businesses — including its oil and gas and power groups — and combine that with the company’s Predix analytics software.

The goal is to offer more automated inspection solutions that can augment an inspector’s work and provide more data and analysis. Replacing individuals in particular tasks with drones or robots could save clients money and put fewer human inspectors in harm’s way, he said.

“There’s a big opportunity to take the way they do inspections right now and fundamentally disrupt it,” Tepper said. “You can take these advanced technologies . . . and help [clients] perform duties in a safer, more efficient manner.”


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.