Polaris Partners Adds $450M for Seventh Fund

Polaris Partners, a Boston-based venture capital firm with heavy historical ties to MIT’s biotech research labs, has raised $450 million for a seventh fund.

The new fund is slightly larger than the $400 million targeted in initial SEC filings earlier this year, likely buoyed by a string of recent portfolio company IPOs in the healthcare sector.

In its announcement, Polaris was sure to highlight entrepreneurs from both the software and life sciences halves of its business. That’s notable as venture firms wrestle anew with the question of whether to specialize or tackle multiple industries at once.

Just a few months ago, Cambridge, MA-based Atlas Venture went the other direction, splitting its life science and tech teams. Another example of specialization is Lightstone Ventures, which was founded in 2012 by healthcare investors from Advanced Technology Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures.

The time is certainly right for healthcare investors to count some returns: companies from the sector have made up the largest share of IPOs in the past year or so, according to research from IPO Scoop. Polaris has seen several life sciences companies go public in the past couple of years, including Acceleron Pharma, Bind Therapeutics, Genocea Biosciences, T2 Biosystems, and Cerulean Pharma.

Notable investments on the tech side include real estate website Trulia, which was acquired by competitor Zillow, and Automattic, the company behind the widely used WordPress website publishing software.

Polaris’s last fund was $375 million, raised in 2010. That was a huge downsizing from the previous fund, a 2006-vintage vehicle that was worth $1 billion. Of course, plenty changed in the financial markets in that span.

Since its last fund, Polaris has also seen strategic changes on the tech side—it launched a startup incubator called Dogpatch Labs, which expanded from San Francisco to Boston, New York, Silicon Valley, and Dublin. Today, only the Dublin site remains.

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