1. Business

Jabil opens R&D innovation center as part of $67 million St. Petersburg campus expansion

Jabil CEO Mark Mondello speaks Thursday at the opening of the company's  new innovation center at its corporate campus on Roosevelt Boulevard in St. Petersburg. (Photo courtesy of Jabil)
Jabil CEO Mark Mondello speaks Thursday at the opening of the company's new innovation center at its corporate campus on Roosevelt Boulevard in St. Petersburg. (Photo courtesy of Jabil)
Published Mar. 28, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — With architecture as low-slung as a classic Florida ranch house, the new innovation center that Jabil opened Thursday is not much to look at from the outside.

No matter. What counts is what happens inside the labs that Jabil has moved into the 40,000-square-foot center. The research and development building is the first of four phases of construction planned as part of a $67 million expansion of Jabil's headquarters campus on Roosevelt Boulevard. All work is expected to be done by the end of 2021.

"This is just the beginning of a campus that is not only going to be state of the art, but is going to attract our most precious and competitive advantage: people that want to work here, in a company that's growing," CEO Mark Mondello said.

One of the Tampa Bay area's largest public companies with revenues likely to top $26 billion this year, Jabil designs and makes a huge range of products, including appliances, computing hardware, telecommunications equipment, medical devices, and electronics for the automotive, aerospace, industrial, energy and consumer goods sectors. It has about 200,000 employees and 100 facilities in 29 countries, including the kind of design-centric innovation centers it debuted in St. Petersburg.

"I can't wait to see the innovations that happen within the walls of this building," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said. City Hall allowed Jabil to assume the lease for and maybe eventually buy the city-owned building, previously was the home of the nonprofit Tampa Bay Research Institute.

Those innovations? They're already happening.

More than 100 engineers, researchers and technicians work in the renovated building. In the lab for Nypro, a Jabil subsidiary that designs and makes products for the diagnostic, medical device, pharmaceutical delivery, and consumer health markets, there's a 3-D printed artificial knee that's finished out in titanium, steel, an array of sensors and wireless connectivity that allows health care providers to track, for example, how much exercise the patient's getting.

There's a feeding tube with a camera, an air-quality monitor that can be worn like a wristwatch, a heart-monitoring athletic shirt and a hand-held ultrasound device. There's more, too, much of it proprietary and thus screened off from visitors, who were told no photography inside the building.

One of those mostly secret projects concerns a piece of therapy equipment that's big enough — about 5 feel tall and more than 200 pounds — that currently it needs to be used at clinics and other health care facilities, said Angel Lasso, Nypro's senior director for engineering services. But work is underway to create a version one-fourth as big so that patients could take therapy at home and travel.

Other labs in the building include an:

• An advanced process development lab, which creates manufacturing processes using a broad range of disciplines — material science, chemical, mechn anical and electrical engineering, robotics and printed electronics — for highly specialized and difficult-to-make products.

• An enterprise and infrastructure test lab that develops ways to gauge the accuracy and reliability of testing procedures used to make equipment for cloud computing, data storage and networking, semiconductors and photonics.

• A failure analysis lab with a variety of capabilities, including an X-ray machine only slightly smaller than what the U.S. Transportation Security Administration uses to scan checked bags at Tampa International Airport.

As part of the expansion, Jabil also is tearing down its original building and will rebuild it bigger, with 170,000 square feet in four stories for offices and support services. It will renovate its current headquarters building inside and out. And it plans to position the new construction to maximize views of a large man-made lake at the rear of the campus.

"Feels like home," Mondello said. "We're a real technical, engineering-driven company, but there's a simplicity about our brand and a simplicity about who we are. And this campus just has that feel with the lake."

That's no small matter, since communities from Tampa to Singapore courted Jabil before it decided it would keep its head office in the city where it grew into a corporate powerhouse.

"When it comes down to it, we're a St. Pete company," Mondello said. "We've got 72 factories around the world. We've got about 50 million feet of manufacturing space." And I'll tell you: the offers we got to move to other locations? I'm really glad we didn't."

Contact Richard Danielson at or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times


  1. Brian Davison is chief executive officer of Equialt, which bought this Safety Harbor home in a tax deed sale. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission contends in a new lawsuit that EquiAlt is a Ponzi scheme, and Davison has diverted investor funds for his own lavish personal spending. Times (2015)
  2. Daily recreations like this Bible scene at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando will be ending at the Christian theme park, which has been suffering from low attendance and debt for years.
  3. Madico spent $40 million developing its new corporate headquarters and factory on Belcher Road in Pinellas Park. [Amy Pezzicara | Pezz Photo]
  4. The developers of Avalon Park West in Wesley Chapel are planning a $736 million downtown core to accompany nearly 2,700 residences and 355,000 square feet of commercial and office space in a walkable neighborhood. . As part of the deal, Pasco County will consider kicking  in a $33 million 30-year incentive, mostly a tax rebate to help with infrastructure costs.
  5. Pasco County commissioners introduced an ordinance Tuesday governing upkeep of empty property after residents complained about the condition of the Links Golf Club in Hudson, which closed in June 2019.
  6. In this Aug. 8, 2015, file photo former owner of the San Francisco 49ers Edward DeBartolo, Jr., is interviewed before the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. President Donald Trump pardoned DeBartolo, who was convicted in gambling fraud scandal. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
  7. Outback Steakhouse at 4302 W. Boy Scout Blvd. near International Plaza and Bay Street. [Monique Welch | Times]
  8. Florida has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  9. The 26-story JW Marriott hotel is rising across the street from the Marriott Water Street Hotel near Amalie Arena. [RICHARD DANIELSON | Times]
  10. This file photo shows a Pier 1 Imports store in Dallas. Pier 1 Imports is closing nearly half its 942 stores as it struggles to draw consumers and compete online. The home decor company said Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, it is closing up to 450 stores and will also shutter distribution centers. It didn't say where the store closures would occur, but it operates stores in the U.S. and Canada. Pier 1 also plans layoffs at its corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. [Donna McWilliam | Associated Press (2005)]
  11. [Getty Images]
  12. Express Parcel Service says is plans to shut down its operations at the Amazon distribution station at 9900 18th Street N in St. Petersburg, as well as in Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers and Palmetto. (Google street view)