SRI Plans Grand Opening In St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is getting ready to welcome SRI International, when the company unveils its new waterfront 37,000-square-foot R&D facility at the port of St. Petersburg Dec. 18.

The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership is planning a welcoming ceremony from 10 a.m. to noon that day at the two-story office and lab building. SRI, a nonprofit research institute, is headquartered in Silicon Valley, California.

SRI  broke ground in late October at 450 8th Avenue SE, in the Bayboro Harbor neighborhood. The center will employ about 100 SRI researchers and staff. It is built to be expandable to 100,000 square feet.

There the company will do research and development in marine science and technology, port security, energy and the environment.

SRI has been operating in St. Petersburg at the University of South Florida Bayboro campus since 2007. Its staff started with 40 USF employees and has expanded to 70 people. During its time in St. Petersburg, the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command awarded SRI a five-year $36.5 million contract to develop a maritime domain awareness system for better port security in the United States.

The state used $20 million from its Innovation Incentive Program Fund to lure SRI to St. Petersburg. The city, state and Pinellas County contributed another $10 million in funding and land to build the new SRI St. Petersburg facility.

SRI was founded in 1946 on the Stanford University campus. It became independent in 1970 and is one of the world's largest R&D facilities.

Writer: Dave Szymanski

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