Make us your home page
Instagram

Draper Laboratory exec heralds Florida as Tampa Bay labs open early

Len Polizzotto, head of marketing and business development for Draper Laboratory, says its integration into Florida is ahead of schedule, with facilities in Tampa and St. Petersburg holding open houses today. He says Draper specializes in bridging the gap between research, development and implementation in health care.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Len Polizzotto, head of marketing and business development for Draper Laboratory, says its integration into Florida is ahead of schedule, with facilities in Tampa and St. Petersburg holding open houses today. He says Draper specializes in bridging the gap between research, development and implementation in health care.

When Len Polizzotto joined Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Mass., he asked: "What do you need?" Health care scientists asked for more resources and lab space to accelerate their pursuits. The makers of "multi­chip modules" — complex, miniaturized electronics called nano­technology — wanted more capacity than Draper's Cambridge facility allowed.

"So I said, like Dudley Do-Right, 'I will find you resources and capacity!' " Polizzotto chuckled in an interview last week. He did both when Draper expanded to Florida and claimed two Tampa Bay facilities: one on the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, the other in a St. Petersburg building complete with a "clean room" it bought for electronics manufacturing. Both facilities are ahead of schedule and celebrate open houses today. Now Polizzotto is stepping back from the day-to-day and is prowling to find Draper's next big opportunity — wherever it may be. Here are highlights of the Polizzotto interview:

Remind our readers, Len: What does Draper Lab do?

We help bridge the gap between research, development and implementation. Universities do great research but not much development. We rely on university research and specialize in development. The gap between research and development is called the "valley of death" because so many things die before reaching the other side. We bridge that gap.

Now that Draper Lab's opened two operations in Tampa Bay, what's your take on Florida?

The Tampa Bay area is outstanding for bioengineering. You have the VA hospital, the medical school, Moffitt Cancer Center. Along with Scripps Research, Burnham Institute and Torrey Pines, Florida is becoming a hotbed for biosciences.

Does it matter that Draper is in Tampa Bay, but Scripps, Burnham and other big biotech players are on the other side of the state?

No. What it tells us is the state has the right attitude on how it goes about economic development and establishes an "innovation economy" and a significant bio presence. It was influential.

So you are showcasing two Draper facilities. What's the one on USF's Tampa campus about?

We built out 10,000 square feet and will double that. We have a staff of 10 including biologists and biochemists, double what we expected at this time, and with USF have 15 project proposals.

What's an example?

Draper has expertise in guidance and balance systems. One proposal with the VA involves designing a belt that could help injured or older people to maintain their balance and help prevent them from falling.

You've bought a building in St. Pete for manufacturing "MCMs," or multichip modules. What's the status there?

We are three months ahead of schedule. We have 13 people on site including electrical and mechanical engineers, twice what we planned at this point. We've moved some Draper people from Cambridge down here to instill the Draper culture, but most hires are local. We have not had any trouble finding the caliber of people here we want to hire. In fact, our Cambridge MCM facility reports to the manager of the MCM in St. Pete.

And what's your overall jobs goal in Florida?

We're aiming for 100 jobs in Tampa in seven years and 65 in St. Petersburg within five years.

What else is Draper up to these days?

We're working with Progress Energy on ways to improve the efficiency of coal-fueled power plants and to build a smart electrical grid that can incorporate renewable energy sources. We've partnered with an Army base in Massachusetts to explore soldier innovations. We're working with Brown University on some things in Rhode Island.

Any final words?

Just to thank the state, counties and cities in Florida that have helped make our start here so easy.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

Draper Laboratory exec heralds Florida as Tampa Bay labs open early 10/25/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 25, 2009 4:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”
  2. Potential new laws further curb Floridians' right to government in the Sunshine

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — From temporarily shielding the identities of murder witnesses to permanently sealing millions of criminal and arrest records, state lawmakers did more this spring than they have in all but one of the past 22 years to chip away at Floridians' constitutional guarantees to access government records and …

    The Legislature passed 17 new exemptions to the Sunshine Law, according to a tally by the First Amendment Foundation.
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]