Scottish aquaculture nets new funding worth millions

Published on
November 19, 2019

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has received a new five-year funding package worth GBP 10 million (USD 12.9 million, EUR 11.7 million) to support the sector’s sustainable growth.

It is expected that this “Phase 2” investment, provided by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), will be supplemented by an additional GBP 3.5 million (USD 4.5 million, EUR 4.1 million) from third-parties, ranging from competitive grants to income generated through services.

During its first five-year phase, SAIC turned an initial funding package of GBP 6.75 million (USD 8.7 million, EUR 7.9 million) into a portfolio valued at GBP 42.6 million (USD 55.2 million, EUR 49.8 million), spread across 47 initiatives. Of this, GBP 33.8 million (USD 43.8 million, EUR 39.5 million) came from industry and other partners, and led to the creation of more than 200 jobs, largely in rural areas. SAIC also supported the development of the aquaculture talent pool by funding the studies of 92 MSc and PhD students.

“SAIC was built to do things differently,” SAIC Chairman David Gregory said. “We have sought to act as a fulcrum for industry, the public sector, and academia, bringing everyone with an interest in aquaculture together for the good of the Scottish economy. We have also helped the industry deal with some of its biggest challenges – which individual businesses, or even groups of companies, wouldn’t have been able to tackle on their own – through access to academic expertise and applied research.”

Gregory explained that the original goal was to attract GBP 1 (USD 1.29, EUR 1.17) of industry investment for every GBP 1 spent on projects, but that SAIC had delivered “significantly more” than that.

“The projects have been industry-relevant, attracting hard cash from partners and delivering outcomes that could make a real difference. We have also encouraged the industry to talk about the good work that is being done and reinvent the way it shares information, not only with itself, but the wider world too,” he said

Within its Phase 2 strategy, SAIC plans to:

  • Drive innovation by leveraging new sources of funding and bringing multiple partners together from across the United Kingdom, with a particular focus on engaging with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Develop aquaculture skills and talent across Scotland through a focused program. This will include a mentoring scheme, helping grow the Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) network, and working with undergraduates and schools to build awareness of aquaculture as a career
  • Share innovation throughout the industry by organizing workshops, conferences, and disseminating information in new ways. The innovation center will host Gill Health Initiative 2020 in April next year in a bid to inspire and share new ideas around an important industry priority

“The world has an insatiable appetite for protein. In salmon and other seafood, Scotland is producing globally-recognized, sustainably sourced premium products to match that need. Innovation has been, and will continue to be, an integral part of how we help the industry enhance fish health and wellbeing, reduce losses, and enable businesses of all sizes to grow,” SAIC CEO Heather Jones said. “Over the next five years, we will build on Scottish aquaculture’s existing foundations to establish a low-carbon, hi-tech, data-rich, and cutting-edge sector that is led by pioneering research aligned with genuine industry need.”  

Image courtesy of Lukassek/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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