Polaris preps for a $400M fund to back a new wave of biotechs

Polaris Partners, one of the biggest investors in biotech, is setting up a new $400 million fund. The venture group outlined the bare bolts for Fund VII in an SEC filing earlier in the week, which follows on the heels of its last $375 million fund, pieced together during lean-and-mean times back in 2011.

Polaris' partners have a taste for the new, new thing in biotech, often joining syndicates which include some familiar faces and shared interests in emerging technologies. In just the last few months the venture group has helped bankroll Editas, a new gene-editing venture that just recruited Avila vet Katrine Bosley to the helm, as well as Navitor--targeting the mTORC1 pathway involved in a variety of diseases. Polaris seeded Navitor, then brought together a group of backers that includes GSK's SR One.

But Polaris is perhaps best known for the fecund relationship it has with MIT's Robert Langer, bankrolling a host of Langer biotechs--frequently formed around the scientist's insights on nanotechnology and new approaches to drug delivery--ranging from Selecta to Bind and Kala and Cerulean.

A spokesperson for Polaris told FierceBiotech that per SEC regulations, the firm can't comment on the fund as of now.

Fundraising in biotech has changed dramatically over the past two years. Following the 2008 financial crisis investors shunned high-risk , high-cost endeavors like new drug development, in which startups could look forward to years of red ink before seeing a return. But the scene began to change in the fall of 2012, followed by an IPO boom that has registered some big payoffs for some. Venture funding in the U.S. biotech industry over the last few years has typically ranged from $4 billion to $4.5 billion a year over the last few years.

Polaris was founded by in 1996 and currently has $3.5 billion worth of investments under its wing. It has offices in the two top U.S. biotech hubs--Boston and San Francisco--as well as Dublin, Ireland. And in addition to biotech the group also invests in IT.

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