San Antonio Tech and Bioscience Group Plans New Innovation Center

Xconomy Texas — 

San Antonio — [Updated 2:44 p.m. See Below.] A new organization that aims to be a “superhub” for entrepreneurs and startups is being launched in San Antonio by the Texas Research & Technology Foundation, a bioscience and technology economic development group.

Called VelocityTX, the group plans to provide capital, mentorship, access to manufacturing facilities, and other resources to startups and early stage companies in town that are seeking to grow quickly. VelocityTX will focus on biosciences, cybersecurity, and other emerging technologies, and is planning a formal launch in the fall of this year, according to its website.

It has already hired staff, including Jorge Varela, who spent almost five years as the director of startup incubator Tech Fort Worth. Varela joined the Texas Research & Technology Foundation (TRTF) in May to work with bioscience and technology companies, according to his LinkedIn profile. The San Antonio Business Journal reported that Varela will lead VelocityTX. [Story updated with comments from TRTF throughout.]

Just last week, TRTF purchased an industrial complex that has more than 110,000 square feet of building space across five structures, according to a press release. The structures sit on almost five acres of land. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

In addition to the facilities and mentorship, companies may be able to qualify for funding from the group. TRTF didn’t disclose what companies need to do to qualify.

“This initiative will fill a gap in San Antonio’s economic development infrastructure,” Steve Dufilho, the chairman of the TRTF board, said in the press release.

Along with the purchase of the new facility, which was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News, a few of the executives at TRTF are also switching roles. John Randolph (Randy) Harig, who became chairman of the organization in December, decided to step down from his role last week to take a paid position as the CEO of TRTF, according to the release.

He is replacing York Duncan, who has served as president since 1996. Duncan is now the vice president of real estate, overseeing the budgeting of the organization’s real estate activities at both the newly acquired site and its original research park. Dufilho was the vice chairman until last week.

TRTF was created as a nonprofit in the 1980s to use 1,200 acres of land that was donated by Tom and Nancy Pawel, local philanthropists and entrepreneurs, for a bioscience research park. The group has since sold off much of that land, including parcels to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) for data centers the computing giant is building, and to apartment developers.

TRTF has used the proceeds from those sales to fund its entrepreneurial work, including a seed investment fund, the $1 million McDermott Legacy Fund. The fund seeks matching investments and has given capital to local companies such as Invictus Medicine and StemBioSys.