New Amazon Fund Invests in Boston Hardware Consultant Dragon Innovation

Dragon Innovation has been helping startups build their hardware products and raise funding since the Boston-based consultancy was founded in 2009.

Now Dragon is adding a new focus when working with customers: voice. Dragon has received an undisclosed investment from a new fund created by Amazon, called the Alexa Fund, that invests in developer and manufacturing startups interested in building novel voice technologies, Seattle-based Amazon announced Thursday. Dragon was one of the first seven companies to receive an investment.

The new fund is named after Amazon’s cloud-based, Siri-like virtual assistant service, called Alexa, and will make up to $100 million in investments. (Alexa is used in the Amazon Echo device, which ships next month.) The fund is focused on pre-revenue, early stage companies that make hardware for use inside or outside the home that could be used with Alexa; for new services on devices that use Alexa; or for developing voice technology, Amazon says.

With the new funding, Dragon plans to build expertise in using Alexa Voice Services and the Alexa Skills Kit, two sets of APIs and tools that Amazon offers to developers and startups who might want to integrate the Alexa voice functions with their apps, hardware, or Web products, Amazon says. Dragon plans to work with its clients to add voice services to their devices, Amazon wrote in a statement.

Dragon and its founder Scott Miller are known for working with companies like Pebble, Romotive, and MakerBot. It has helped companies learn to get products built in China, and even started its own crowdfunding program to compete with Kickstarter.

The six other companies that received funding from Amazon’s Alexa Fund include San Francisco-based Orange Chef, a personalized cooking tool, and Brooklyn-based Toymail, which sells an Internet-connected toy.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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