A £10 million funding package has been agreed to underpin growth in Scotland’s aquaculture sector – including salmon farms and mussel producers - to help it deliver a £3.6 billion boost to Scotland’s economy by 2030.
The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has secured the five-year deal, which will be used to overcome industry challenges and improve skills, from the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
A further £3.5m is expected to be secured from other sources.
During its first five-year phase, SAIC turned an initial funding package of £6.75m, into a portfolio valued at £42.6m across 47 initiatives. Of the total figure invested, £33.8m came from industry and other partners – leading to the creation of more than 200 jobs, largely in rural areas.
The SAIC also supported the development of the aquaculture talent pool by funding the studies of 92 Master’s and PhD students.
The centre has played a key role in the development of the industry’s plan to sustainably double the sector’s economic contribution to the Scottish economy from £1.8bn in 2016 to £3.6bn by 2030.
'Making a real difference'
David Gregory, chairman of the SAIC, said the centre has helped the industry deal with some of its biggest challenges – which individual businesses wouldn’t have been able to tackle on their own – through access to academic expertise and applied research.
He said: “The level of investment from industry is testament to that success: our original goal was to attract £1 of industry investment for every £1 we spent on projects, but we have 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 re-invent the way it shares information, not only with itself, but the wider world too.”
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Richard Lochhead, minister for further education, higher education and science, said: “The government is working hard to ensure the aquaculture industry continues to thrive, and this announcement means the SAIC will remain a catalyst for growth in a key national industry which enjoys international success, securing future jobs and sustainable economic growth.”
In its strategy for the next five years, the SAIC plans to drive innovation by leveraging new sources of funding and bringing multiple partners together from across the UK, with a particular focus on engaging with small businesses.
It also plans to work with undergraduates and schools to build awareness of aquaculture as a career and back a mentoring scheme helping the growth of the Women in Scottish Aquaculture network.
The SAIC is part of the Scottish Innovation Centre programme launched in 2013.