The Dallas Region’s startup and corporate innovation community has a new connector and champion.
Jorge Varela, new Vice President of Innovation at the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC), has spent decades building startups in Silicon Valley, San Antonio, and even in Central America—his place of origin.
“My role is to act as a connector between innovators—whether it’s a startup, a university, or a corporation—and the resources they need,” said Varela, who most recently worked as interim CEO of BioNorthTexas.
Varela’s first day on the job at the DRC is March 1.
“We are excited about what Jorge brings to the DRC’s innovation efforts,” said Duane Dankesreiter, Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation. “Having someone of his caliber and experience supporting our members and working to create a more robust innovation economy will be invaluable.”
In his 30-year career, there’s little in the tech, startup, investing, and corporate arena that Varela hasn’t done or seen. He’s helped launch more than 100 startups, spurring more than $600 million in investments and exits exceeding $4 billion in value.
One thing he sees in North Texas is its momentum.
“The shift from Silicon Valley and the East Coast to Texas and DFW is real,” Varela said. “This region is already a tech and innovation leader in so many ways. And we’re only getting stronger. We have the investors, corporations, startups, and we have the technology. We have every single resource you need to succeed.”
Varela has firsthand knowledge of the workings of Silicon Valley.
He spent his early years—beginning in 1987—in Silicon Valley working with companies that integrated phone operations into computer systems and capitalized other software and tech projects.
Beginning in 2012, he used that knowledge to help the University of Texas at Arlington capitalize its research intellectual property, all while he was getting his political economy degree.
Varela has spent the last decade mentoring startup founders and investors in both biotech (at BioNTX) and technology in general at the Texas Research and Technology Foundation in San Antonio, TechFW, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
In his two and a half years at BioNTX, Varela nearly doubled the organization’s grants and upped sponsorships by a third. His work helped recruit Kathleen M. Otto, who was CEO of BioBAT—an NYC-based life science research and manufacturing center for innovation and scientific research—to BioNTX.
Varela said he is eager to get started at the DRC.
“I’ve had the opportunity to interact with the DRC in the past, and I’ve seen the impact they have on this region. It’s exciting to now be a part of the team.”
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