Immediately south of downtown, the Innovation District is a cluster of higher education, marine science, healthcare, business incubation, and media institutions. The city has been working with the newly formed Board of the St. Pete Innovation District to expand the growth and development of the area. In 2015, four committees were created to focus on business development, real estate, placemaking and branding, and research collaboration and innovation. The Visioning Summary Report, completed in fall 2015, refines the District's focus and priorities. A Streetscape and Connectivity Plan for the District was completed in 2017.
Within the Innovation District, St. Petersburg’s marine and environmental sciences institutions flourish in downtown’s Bayboro Harbor area, ideally located on Tampa Bay near the Gulf of Mexico. Anchoring the district is the St. Petersburg Ocean Team – the premier consortium of marine science, oceanographic, and environmental research agencies and institutions in the Southeastern United States.
The Ocean Team includes public and private non-profit agencies, such as NOAA, University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science, SRI – St. Petersburg, United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) that are devoted to marine and environmental research in Florida, the Caribbean, and beyond.
Ocean Team agencies employ more than 1,600 people whose spending generates an additional 1,800 employees and leads to a total impact of $251 million in gross county product. As the district evolves, firms in related industries have the opportunity to capitalize on technology transfer and research commercialization by locating near the district with access to a growing, specialized workforce.