ARK Innovation Center in St. Pete expects to have global impact

The new $15.8 million ARK Innovation Center, designed to cultivate technology and innovation in St. Petersburg’s Innovation District, is expected to birth and grow companies with a global impact in the tech, fintech, and science industries.

“The ARK Innovation center is definitely a game changer for the innovation community of the Tampa Bay region,” says Dr. Cynthia Johnson, director of Pinellas County Economic Development. “It’s going to create an epicenter if you will of innovation solutions for tech, fintech.”

She adds that it also will “accelerate the growth of the startup companies in our region.”

Project officials planned a ceremonial groundbreaking this morning (Feb. 15) as an invitation-only event because of COVID, Dr. Johnson says. Actual construction already is under way.

The new facility at 1101 4th Street South, slated to open in July 2023, is being financed by the federal Economic Development Administration, Pinellas County, and naming sponsor, ARK Invest.

The EDA awarded approximately $11.3 million to cover construction costs on 2.5 acres donated by the city of St. Petersburg. ARK Investment Management LLC, which moved from New York to St. Petersburg last fall, paid $2 million as naming rights sponsor.

The Tampa Bay Innovation Center, led by Tonya Elmore, has been contracted to run the center featuring an incubator for startups. It will relocate to the building to manage programming for businesses that lease space in the facility.

The incubator already has attracted national interest.

“It would not only provide them a venue for expanding their business into a brick and mortar but it will provide the support services,” Dr. Johnson says.

Bandes Construction of Dunedin is the contractor; the project’s architect is The Beck Group, which has a Tampa office. 

The three-story, 45,000-square-foot center will feature a 200-person event center to host innovation meetings, investment pitch sessions, and innovation-related community gatherings.

It also features an innovation lab with 30,000 square feet of dedicated incubator space expected to include podcast studios and a community cafe. Another 10,000 square feet will be used for corporate innovation.

Additionally, there will be several state-of-the-art spaces set aside for knowledge exchange and training, she says. There also will be room for conferences and co-working space.

The new facility is expected to have a $28 million economic impact by 2026, creating 1,265 direct and indirect jobs. Clients and graduates are projected to generate $127 million annually.

In other news

In other Tampa Bay Innovation Center news, the early- stage tech incubator, accelerator, and coworking hub is accepting applications to its Spring 2022 Accelerator program for B2B tech ventures.

The Pinellas County-based startup accelerator program seeks high-impact tech startups from a broad range of industries that serve enterprise and SMB customers. Founders will engage in a rigorous program that includes coaching, design thinking, user research, and insight from industry professionals.

The program begins on Wednesday, March 23, and is currently scheduled to be held in person at TBIC’s downtown St. Petersburg office.

Applications are being accepted until March 4. Complete information and application details are available here.
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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune