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Avnet Buys Dragon Innovation, Aiming to Sell Advice As Well As Parts

Avnet announced on Tuesday that it had acquired Dragon Innovation, a software firm that walks companies through every stage of manufacturing Internet of Things devices like wearables, robots, and smart home appliances.

Dragon Innovation aims to guide companies as they move from prototyping to volume production. It offers software that predicts production costs, refines products for manufacturing, and records bills of materials. It also provides advice for choosing factories and managing other manufacturing uncertainties.

“By providing customers with the fastest, simplest, safest way to manufacture at scale, Dragon Innovation’s vision is to make manufacturing feel easy,” said Scott Miller, Dragon Innovation’s chief executive and one of its founders, in a statement.

Miller, who had been vice president of engineering for iRobot, which makes the Roomba robot vacuum, started the firm in 2009 with Herman Peng, a former managing director for iRobot. Before that, Miller worked on robotic dinosaurs for Disney Imagineering and robotic baby dolls at Hasbro.

For Avnet, the acquisition fits with its strategy of tapping into online engineering communities. Over the last year, the distributor has bought both Hackster and Premier Farnell – maker of the Raspberry Pi – giving it instant access to online spaces where hundreds of thousands of engineers swap tips about internet-connected devices.

The latest acquisition shows that Avnet is trying to serve as a primary source for both parts and production advice. In May, the company announced a partnership with Kickstarter and Dragon Innovation aimed at making it easier for inventors to move from crowdfunding to manufacturing.

“Dragon Innovation’s hardware manufacturing expertise augments Avnet’s design and supply chain capabilities beyond electronic components to encompass the entire finished product,” said Bill Amelio, Avnet’s chief executive, said in a statement.

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