SAIC secures £10m to help industry thrive

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by Benedikte Ranum

Head of Marketing and Communications

SAIC has received a £10 million, five-year funding package to support the sustainable growth of the sector. The Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) investment is expected to be supplemented by £3.5 million from other sources.

During its first five-year phase, SAIC started with project funding of £6.75 million and has added £33.8 million from industry and other partners.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said: “Scotland’s Innovation Centres have the potential to have a transformational effect on our economy. The Government is working hard to ensure the aquaculture industry continues to thrive, and today’s announcement means the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre will remain a catalyst for growth in a key national industry which enjoys international success, securing future jobs and sustainable economic growth.”

David Gregory, chairman of SAIC, said: “SAIC was built to do things differently. 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.

“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 reinvent the way it shares information, not only with itself, but the wider world too.”

In its Phase 2 strategy for the next five years, SAIC plans to:

  1. Drive innovation by through new sources of funding and bringing partners together from across the UK, with a focus on engaging with SMEs.
  2. Develop aquaculture skills and talent across Scotland through a focussed programme of mentoring; helping the growth of the Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) network and working with undergraduates and schools to build awareness of aquaculture as a career.
  3. Sharing innovation throughout the industry by organising workshops, conferences, and disseminating information in new ways over the next five years. The innovation centre will host Gill Health Initiative 2020 in April next year in a bid to inspire and share new ideas around an important industry priority.

Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, added: “The world has an insatiable appetite for protein. In salmon and other seafood, Scotland is producing globally-recognised, 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."