Scottish aquaculture center rebrands, extends reach

Published on
February 2, 2021

SAIC, formerly the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, has outlined a new strategic focus and an expanded geographical coverage as it rebrands to the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre.

According to the Scottish government backed program, the move reflects SAIC’s alignment with supporting a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the global aquaculture sector’s increasing drive to enhance sustainability through technological innovation and new ways of working.

It will actively target future funding calls at sustainability initiatives within its priority research areas. Previously, these have included enhancing fish farming’s impact on seabeds, reducing the need for pharmaceutical treatments, developing new raw materials for feed, and reducing or eliminating waste. 

“SAIC’s re-brand is a lot more than just a change of name – it’s a reflection of the times we live in and the opportunity our sector has in front of it,” SAIC CEO Heather Jones said. “Sustainable aquaculture has so much to contribute to an uncertain world facing a range of challenges, not least the climate crisis and delivering a green economic recovery from COVID-19. There is a great deal of untapped potential to increase farmed fish and shellfish production, providing responsibly sourced, high-quality, healthy protein to the world’s growing population and supporting skilled jobs.”

Jones stressed that SAIC would remain “highly committed” to Scotland and will build on the millions of pounds that the center and its members has invested in projects since 2014, but that its reach and ambition are now wider, while its membership is growing in geographic diversity.

SAIC now has around 180 members, with almost 40 percent based outside of Scotland.

“We have helped draw down funding from the U.K., Europe, and further afield, to help take on the challenges that are common across aquaculture markets – exporting Scotland’s skills, knowledge and technology across the world,” Jones said. “Sustainability is not a static condition – it is an ongoing process. We will continue to drive innovation and new ways of working, whether that is by reducing the need for pharmaceutical treatments or transforming the use of data and systems to maximize efficiency. Guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SAIC is determined to make our part of the blue economy as climate-friendly as it can possibly be.”

In December last year, SAIC announced that it had coordinated GBP 2.2 million (USD 3 million, EUR 2.5 million) from academia, businesses, and its own investment to fund sustainability-focused projects. The initiatives range from measures to enhance fish health and wellbeing to improvements to environmental sensing technology. 

It has also calculated to date that for every GBP 1 (USD 1.35, EUR 1.12) it has invested in projects, some GBP 4.90 (USD 6.62, EUR 5.47) has been raised from other sources. This, SAIC said, underpins Scotland’s aquaculture sector’s ambition to double its economic contribution to GBP 3.6 billion (USD 4.9 billion, EUR 4 billion) by 2030, and to support 18,000 jobs.

Photo courtesy of the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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