The Polaris Express: Dogpatch Labs Says Goodbye Pier 38, Hello Palo Alto and Dublin

9/29/11Follow @gthuang

It’s official: Waltham, MA-based Polaris Venture Partners is announcing a couple of moves related to its network of Dogpatch Labs startup incubators. One bit of news involves the fate of the original Dogpatch in San Francisco. The other piece is about a brand new (and long-awaited) international site that is opening today. (Dogpatch Labs already exists in San Francisco, Cambridge, MA, and New York City.)

First, the Bay Area news. As my colleague Wade reported earlier this month, Dogpatch Labs in San Francisco has been looking for new office space as it is being forced to move from its current location at embattled Pier 38. The new space, it turns out, will be in Palo Alto, adjacent to the new Polaris Ventures office, which is one block off of University Avenue, says Dave Barrett, a general partner at the firm. The Polaris office has Brian Chee and Ryan Spoon based there, and several other partners who spend a fair bit of time there. (Chee moved to the Bay Area when Polaris closed its old office in Seattle recently.)

The Dogpatch facility in Palo Alto will be open for business in early November, Barrett says. Interestingly, while some VCs are talking about startup ecosystems becoming more concentrated in urban centers (and that fits with some Boston-area venture firms opening offices in Kendall Square), Barrett sees Palo Alto as “the center of gravity” and “a pretty interesting base for life sciences” in the Bay Area.

And now for the international news. As my colleague Erin reported last December, Polaris has been working on a new Dogpatch Labs site in Dublin, Ireland. Today it is being unveiled in a ceremony attended by the Irish prime minister and other dignitaries. Dogpatch Labs Europe, as it is being called, will start with about 35 entrepreneurs, some from Ireland and some from elsewhere in Europe and Africa, Barrett says.

“We think it can be an interesting center of heat for entrepreneurs, for Ireland and for Europe,” says Barrett. He calls Dublin a “breeding ground” for ideas and startups. “It’s got a vibe to it,” he says.

Heading up Dogpatch Labs Europe will be Noel Ruane, a tech veteran who previously led LaunchPad, a Dublin-based startup accelerator program. He’s also the former CEO of Brandmail Solutions and spent a few years in Silicon Valley with IDA Ireland, where he played a role in attracting Google, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, and PayPal to set up offices in Ireland. And in fact, the new Dogpatch building is located in the Grand Canal area of Dublin (see photo above), right across from Facebook, Google, and Microsoft’s offices, Barrett says.

Polaris isn’t talking about how much it plans to invest in the Dublin facility, or the number of companies it will house (or finance)—though the first group of eight startups is being announced today. “The mission is to try to build a community and build relationships with folks, some of which we’ll invest in and some we won’t,” Barrett says. He adds that the main challenge, as in other places like New York, is that “it’ll take time to lead a rebirth.” (He also says Dublin’s Dogpatch might be most similar to Kendall Square in its breadth of sectors—not just consumer-focused Internet, but also software as a service, infrastructure, and life sciences.)

In any case, Dogpatch Labs Europe will add to this running total of stats for Dogpatch in the U.S.: more than 500 residents from 300 companies; 100 companies have received outside funding totaling more than $140 million; 13 companies have been acquired; and Polaris has provided funding for 13 of the startups.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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