Ireland launches new R&D fund to support seafood innovation
Ireland’s seafood development agency Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has launched a new research and development fund to support Irish companies’ innovation in the seafood sector and help grow the EUR 850 million (USD 1 billion) industry in line with government targets.
An initial EUR 400,000 (USD 472,405) has been provided by BIM this year to support innovation and the development of new technologies of benefit to the seafood sector.
With sales valued at EUR 939 million (USD 1.1 billion) and representing five percent of total food and beverage exports, Ireland’s seafood sector has been earmarked by government as a key area for growth and investment. It has estimated that the agri-food sector, with seafood as a key sub-sector, has the potential to grow exports to EUR 19 billion (USD 22.4 billion) per annum in value by 2025, an 85 percent increase from the current three-year average.
Jim O’Toole, CEO of BIM, said the Irish government’s 10-year vision for the agri-food industry set out in the Food Wise 2025 strategy has not only identified “the wealth of opportunities” for seafood producers but also the role increased research, development and innovation can play in harnessing the export growth potential in this sector.
“Through the launch of the new research and development scheme for seafood producers and our facilitation of access to research and development insights for seafood companies, BIM is addressing the gap between translating research into commercial products. We will continue to work closely with producers and SMEs to encourage innovation within the sector with the goal of further cementing Ireland’s position as a market leader in the global seafood sector,” O’Toole said.
The new fund was announced at the West European Fish Technologists Association’s 47th Annual Conference, being hosted in Dublin by BIM. This international event has brought together more than 140 experts representing 50 of the top performing Irish and international seafood research and development institutes to discuss and gain insights into new innovative technologies to add further value to seafood businesses.
Speaking at the conference, Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Michael Creed said the government hoped that companies would take advantage of the grant aid to continue producing products that will put Ireland on the map as an important seafood producer in the global supply chain.
“This fund will continue to support the seafood sector into 2018 and beyond and will be crucial to helping the industry realize its potential,” Creed said.