EDA Incubates Innovation and Entrepreneurship in St. Petersburg, Florida
A rendering of Tampa Bay Innovation Center at 4th Street South and 11th Avenue South.
The name St. Petersburg conjures up visions of warm, sandy beaches, a variety of theme parks, and two-time Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Like many cities today however, St. Petersburg is looking to redefine itself, with an eye on technology and the innovation that drives it.
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is helping to make that vision a reality. In 2019, EDA awarded a $7.5 million grant to the Pinellas County Board of Supervisors for construction of a new 45,000-square foot state-of-the-art business facility.
With an emphasis on AI and data analytics, the center will offer tools and facilities to serve those entrepreneurs and small businesses focused on technology at every step of the process, from innovation to development. A key component of the center will be a digital fabrication lab equipped with 3D printers and laser cutters to assist entrepreneurs design and test their products.
The center will also provide classrooms, podcast studios, an open event space, a wellness room as well as a café. It will be operated by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center (TBIC), a longstanding Pinellas County-based incubator.
TBIC recently reached an agreement with ARK Investment, LLC, an investment advisor committed to investing in co-called “disruptive innovation,” new technologies, which make previously expensive or sophisticated products and services more accessible and affordable. Through this agreement, ARK will house their research and innovation foundation divisions within the new facility to be named the ARK Innovation Center. The investment firm recently relocated its headquarters from New York to St. Petersburg and will occupy additional office space in the downtown area. See the St. Pete Catalyst news article.
“The collaboration between ARK Investment and the Tampa Bay Innovation Center may be the most significant impact on this generation and the future of the region,” said Tonya Elmore, President and CEO of TBIC.
“We believe that ARK’s relocation to Pinellas County is a game changer for our community as it relates to innovation, the financial sector, and entrepreneurship” said Dr. Cynthia Johnson, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development. “ARK is known as a great corporate citizen and we’re thrilled that they have chosen our community to relocate their businesses and spur innovation.”
With access to the nearby University of South Florida, the center will welcome new talent and entrepreneurs on a regular basis, providing access to new technologies and equipment, while positioning Pinellas County as the innovation hub of the region.
“The ARK Innovation Center will foster the innovation eco-system that is exploding in St. Petersburg, said Dr. Johnson. “It will attract other investors, as well as quality, high-paying jobs to Pinellas County.”
The center is scheduled to open in July 2023.