THE Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has facilitated 16 collaborative projects with a combined investment of £17.9 million since it was set up in 2014.
This amounts to £3.60 generated for every £1 of public money, said SAIC CEO Heather Jones, unveiling the organisation’s progress report – Innovation and the Ripple Effect.
SAIC’s role, she said, is to connect the companies who farm Scotland’s seas with the country’s excellent universities – accelerating innovation, strengthening national food security and supporting environmental stewardship.
SAIC, which has an initial five-year remit, has recently been preparing its case for a second term.
In its report, SAIC said: ‘With the support of industry and academia, we’re well on track to deliver our five-year targets.’
These include 668 industry engagements, 100 applied research MSc projects, 35 co-funded projects, and 110 industry ready graduates.
The SAIC sponsored initiatives undertaken so far include scaling up the use of cleaner fish (with industry partners such as Marine Harvest, Scottish Sea Farms and BioMar, as well as the Institute of Aquaculture); improving cleaner fish vaccination; establishing a sustainable supply of lumpsuckers; enhancing the health and welfare of lumpsuckers; exploring ultrasound technology for delousing; and developing feeds that optimise fish health and nutrition.
More projects are in the pipeline for 2018, focusing on gill health, improving disease resistance, and developing better modelling to benefit both the industry and regulators.
Jones (pictured) said: ‘Working with our industry and academic collaborators, we’ve had some great successes but obviously the work doesn’t stop there.
‘By connecting talent from our top class university sector with industry trailblazers, SAIC supports the ambitious growth strategy of Scotland’s fish and shellfish farmers to deliver more than £3.6 billion to the Scottish economy by 2030 , generating up to 18,000 jobs.
‘Like innovation itself, the effects of our activities ripple far and wide, way beyond our own core remit.
‘We look forward to the ripple effects of innovation extending over time to be good for the environment, good for inclusive economic growth, and good for young people in Scotland.’
SAIC stresses the role it plays in growing the industry’s talent pool, creating opportunities from undergraduate to management level.
It has hosted eight summer interns and found industry placements for a further six youngsters; it has sponsored 61 MSc places; awarded 10 postgraduate conference grants; helped 10 graduates secure 18-month industry placements; and given 39 first-time managers dedicated training.
The full progress report can be found at www.scottishaquaculture.com