Polaris to Open Dog Patch Labs Incubator in Cambridge

9/10/09Follow @bbuderi

Boston entrepreneurs, start your yipping. Polaris Venture Partners is announcing today that it is opening a counterpart to its fast-growing San Francisco-based Dog Patch Labs startup incubator near Kendall Square here in Cambridge, MA. Dog Patch Labs Cambridge, as it’s aptly called, will officially open for business next week and will be housed in the American Twine Building on Third Street, just across the street from Xconomy’s headquarters.

Unlike the original Dog Patch Lab (Polaris has now added an “s” to the end of the name) at Pier 38 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, which I profiled in May and is mostly focused on consumer and Internet companies, the new lab will be home to entrepreneurs and innovators across a wide variety of disciplines, from software-as-a-service and cloud computing to biotech and energy. Initially, the lab will have space for about 10 entrepreneurs, typically in one- and two-person teams. The first five or six “pups” will move in next week—but are not being announced at this time.

Dog Patch CambridgeA bevy of Polaris partners I spoke with—David Barrett, Alan Crane, Mike Hirshland, Bob Metcalfe, and Amir Nashat, each representing different areas of specialization—say the lab’s multi-disciplinary focus reflects the breadth of the innovation community here and the strength of great universities like Harvard and MIT, the latter of which is literally only a few blocks away. “What we’re trying to do is key off some of the things that are working in San Francisco, but recognize that this is a different market,” says Barrett, who focuses chiefly on Internet software and other tech businesses. Crane, who specializes in life sciences investments, says he has five portfolio companies within two blocks of the new Dog Patch location. The lab itself is housed in cool, high-ceilinged space peeled off from online shopping backbone company Allurent, itself a Polaris investment.

Angus Davis and Joe ChungCross-pollinating ideas and practices from companies and people in different disciplines is a key tenet of Dog Patch Cambridge—and shows how Polaris is evolving the incubator concept into something potentially much more powerful than its original idea. Not only do the partners I spoke with say entrepreneurs in one field will benefit from close proximity to their counterparts from another field, but Polaris is also introducing another new idea with the Cambridge operation—that of Dog Patch Fellows, experts or proven entrepreneurs who will share their expertise through visits to the lab.

“A Dog Patch Fellow is either somebody…from a portfolio company, or somebody who we’ve worked closely with, that we all think is a kind of master of his or her trade,” says Barrett. Whether it’s in Web marketing, new sales models, or some other field, he says, “we have our hands around a number of really interesting folks that we think people here would love to get to know and love to get to learn from.”

Some fellows will come from around Boston. However, Polaris says, others will hail from places like the Bay Area that might have expertise harder to find here. Hirshland points to the … Next Page »

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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  • http://www.genotrope.com Tom Summit

    Bravo Polaris and @vcmike. Great news and idea. It was hard not to blog about this news, but glad I didn’t have to wait long. ;-)

    As un-solicited input, I nominate Sean Ellis as one of the Fellows to bring here. We need to nurture a great crop of Web Product Managers. He seems to have done a pretty good job at LogmeIn.

  • http://www.cictr.com Tim Rowe

    Great move, guys. Between what you guys are doing, TechStars, Summer and Highland, the work that folks are doing at Beta House, and the Cambridge Coworking Center that I’m involved with, we are starting to create a really vibrant and interesting set of alternatives for early stage entrepreneurs.

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  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/bbuderi/ Robert Buderi

    Tom–Thanks for not blogging about it early!

    Tim–You almost scooped me yourself, as I was thinking along the same lines. I just posted this 2009 timeline of new programs and initiatives, etc, for Boston area entrepreneurs.

  • http://www.codepuppy.com Jeff Potter

    Fantastic! It’s energy and community like this that keeps many of us here (certainly not the weather!).

  • http://www.hotknifedesign.com Jon Follett

    I think this is a great move by Polaris, and definitely further strengthens the Boston and Cambridge tech community. We have exciting things brewing here–between events like WebInno and BarCamp, co-working locations like Beta House, and most recently the TechStars incubator there are lots of places for entrepreneurs to get plugged in.

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