By Jason Holland, Contributing Editor reporting from London
Published on Tuesday, March 14, 2017
A GBP 1 million (USD 1.2 million, EUR 1.1 million) pilot program to support innovation in Scotland is set to go ahead after the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) approved the funding package. The government agency will run the project in conjunction with the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).
The 30-month pilot, which is expected to attract a similar level of funding from the private sector, is targeted at helping small to medium enterprises (SMEs) achieve greater commercialization of new innovative products and services, which will have a positive and sustainable economic and social impact.
Those projects supported will have clear commercial outcomes. Combined, they are expected to boost industry turnover in the region by around GBP 8 million (USD 9.8 million, EUR 9.2 million) and create up to 50 jobs, including many in fragile areas.
Aquaculture is estimated to contribute GBP 1.8 billion (USD 2.2 billion, EUR 2.1 billion) a year to the Scottish economy and support around 8,000 jobs. The Aquaculture Growth Strategy 2030, “A Strategic Plan for Farming Scotland’s Seas,” states the industry has potential for this to increase to GBP 3.6 billion (USD 4.4 billion, EUR 4.1 billion) and 18,000 jobs by 2030.
“Scotland’s aquaculture industry is a real pillar of our rural economy, particularly for the highlands and islands, and this government is committed to working with partners across the sector to support continued sustainable growth,” said Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s rural economy secretary. “Maximizing the opportunities that innovation can bring will be central in delivering the industry’s vision for the future of aquaculture. That is why it’s pleasing to see this collaborative program come to fruition, which will provide a boost for the sector and support job creation.”
Charlotte Wright, HIE’s interim chief executive, said significant investment from aquaculture firms operating in the region is anticipated in the years ahead.
“It is important that we use public sector funding to support innovation in a way that benefits the whole sector, including firms in the supply chain. In turn this will support the sector's growth as well as strengthen resilience of rural communities, particularly those in some of our most remote and fragile areas,” she said.