Mayor Rick Baker and SRI International executives, joined by other government and business leaders, broke ground on a new research and development facility at the Port of St. Petersburg. The new facility, called SRI St. Petersburg, will provide a home for 100 SRI researchers and staff, conducting cutting-edge R&D in areas such as marine science and technology, port security, energy and the environment.
SRI, a nonprofit research institute, announced in November 2006 that it would open a marine technology R&D facility in St. Petersburg, located near the numerous oceanographic and marine science agencies in the Bayboro Harbor section of the city. In January 2007, SRI officially began operations by accepting the transfer of approximately 40 staff members from the University of South Florida’s (USF) Center for Ocean Technology in St. Petersburg. SRI St. Petersburg is temporarily located on the USF campus at Bayboro Harbor.
Since 2007, SRI St. Petersburg has grown to almost 70 staff members, as its R&D activities have expanded. In addition, the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command awarded SRI and its National Center for Maritime and Port Security a five-year, $36.5 million contract to develop a maritime domain awareness system to improve port security in the U.S. Other SRI R&D projects have included development and local testing of an innovative, energy-producing buoy device; mapping the floor of Tampa Bay in conjunction with a maritime homeland security experiment conducted by the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and other federal and local agencies; and developing new chemical sensing systems for marine research. SRI St. Petersburg staff members are also working in software engineering, and SRI International staff members in other SRI locations are conducting education research and economic development consulting for Florida.
To attract SRI to St. Petersburg, the nonprofit research institute was granted $20 million from the State of Florida’s Innovation Incentive Program fund. A partnership of the city, Pinellas County, and the state provided an additional $10 million in funding and land to build the new SRI facility. The city’s contribution included the waterfront site at the Port of St. Petersburg and a 10-year facility lease. A dilapidated and underutilized warehouse was demolished to accommodate the two-story, 37,000 sq. ft. facility.
The building was designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Inc. and will be constructed by the Manhattan Construction Company. The new building will include laboratory space for developing advanced marine sensors and port security technologies, a state-of-the-art marine operations and deployment shop, and specialized classroom, meeting, and office space to support training, conferences, and daily operations. The site design can accommodate a potential expansion of up to 100,000 square feet.
“Today’s groundbreaking is a milestone in realizing the collective vision of SRI, the University of South Florida, the city of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and the state of Florida,” said SRI President and CEO Curt Carlson. “This beautiful new facility will further SRI’s ability to advance our R&D programs and bring our innovations to the world from our new home in St. Petersburg. SRI thanks the city, county, and state for their warm welcome and strong support, and we look forward to working with the local marine science industry on opportunities of regional, state, and national importance.”
“St. Petersburg was extremely pleased when SRI International announced its intentions to come to St. Petersburg in 2006,” said Mayor Rick Baker. “Already the organization is doing remarkable work in the area of marine technology and port security. We thank our partners in this new endeavor and look forward to turning over this new facility to SRI so that it may continue and expand their worthwhile new advances.”
Florida Governor Charlie Crist said, “The innovation and advancements developed from this new facility will positively impact Floridians for generations to come. This project not only creates high-value, high-wage jobs, but also benefits related sectors such as energy, technology, and security, which are all critical to Florida’s future.”
Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Robert B. Stewart said, “In December 2006, SRI International brought the promise of a new research and development facility that would further build Pinellas County’s technology, energy, marine science, and port securities sectors. As we break ground for SRI St. Petersburg, we look forward to future discoveries, growth, and jobs, this collaborative effort will bring to Pinellas County.”
About SRI International
Silicon Valley-based SRI International is one of the world’s leading independent research and technology development organizations. SRI, which was founded by Stanford University as Stanford Research Institute in 1946 and became independent in 1970, has been meeting the strategic needs of clients and partners for more than 60 years. Perhaps best known for its invention of the computer mouse and interactive computing, SRI has also been responsible for major advances in networking and communications, robotics, drug discovery and development, advanced materials, atmospheric research, education research, economic development, national security, and more. The nonprofit institute performs sponsored research and development for government agencies, businesses, and foundations. SRI also licenses its technologies, forms strategic alliances, and creates spin-off companies. In 2007, SRI’s consolidated revenues, including its wholly owned for-profit subsidiary, Sarnoff Corp., were approximately $450 million.