USF St. Pete competes for $160 million National Science Foundation grant

A director at the College of Marine Science, Steve Murawski, said they have a strong chance of winning due to their prime coastal positioning. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Competing with about 100 other nationwide applicants, USF St. Pete and the Innovation District hope to successfully obtain a $160 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant would produce funding to assist in creating a strong economic support system that would progress technologies and address challenges across the country, according to an article from Catalyst.

Steve Murawski, director of the Center for Ocean Mapping and Innovative Technologies at the College of Marine Science, said he is confident in their chances for winning the grant given St. Pete’s prime location.

“I would be shocked if they didn’t give us serious consideration for this,” he said. “We have all the elements here, right in Tampa Bay, right on the waterfront in St. Pete. So, why not?”

The funding, a part of NSF’s Regional Innovation Engines initiative, would not go toward building potential projects such as the Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences Research and Teaching Facility,

However, executive director of the Innovation District Alison Barlow said it would aid any research and programming associated with the work being done from that building and others surrounding it.

The next step in the process, according to Murawski, is sending in a letter of intent, along with full proposals which are due Jan. 18.

Murawski and Barlow hosted a presentation Wednesday to the St. Pete Area Chamber of Commerce to review support from the community.

With the community’s help, Barlow said the proposal will almost certainly capture the attention of the NSF, and in turn will help boost technological efforts in the St. Pete area.

“It is absolutely transformational,” Barlow said. “It will bring the entire region together, and it would also put us in the role of thought leaders across the country on the topic of the new blue economy.”