Professor Simon MacKenzie, head of the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling, struggled to make himself heard during a presentation about the IoA's future plans. Noise intrusion was a problem for the otherwise successful Scottish Pavilion.

Scotland’s Aqua Nor Pavilion judged a success

76% of those exhibiting in Trondheim trade show stand expect increased business as a result


Three-quarters (76%) of companies and organisations who exhibited in the Scottish Pavilion at the Aqua Nor trade show in Norway last August expect to see an increase in turnover over the next three years because of their involvement, according to a post-event report.

Almost all (94%) of the exhibitors said the event in Trondheim met or exceeded expectations, while 59% were left feeling optimistic about opportunities for new business contacts or leads; opportunities with existing contacts; and potential new customers; and 55% saw potential new markets, according to a survey conducted last September.

“Aqua Nor surpassed our expectations – the size and footfall of the show was greater than I had expected. We secured the rental of a large marine crane to one of the world’s biggest aquaculture companies off the back of discussions we had at the show,” said Tom Murdoch, managing director at Brimmond and an exhibitor at the pavilion.

Government funding

The Scottish Government paid for around two-thirds of the £175,460 cost of the Pavilion via an £84,936 Marine Fund Scotland grant and contributions of £18,608.31 from the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and £15,202.13 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The 20 ‘pods’ in the Pavilion pod cost £3,707.29 each and were offered at a subsidised rate of £2,840 ex. VAT, entitling the pod holder to a range of benefits in addition to the space itself. There were 18 exhibitors, including two that took double-size pods.

A range of businesses also formed part of the wider Scottish delegation through stands of their own, participating in Norwegian parent company or county stands, or simply walking the show to network, see new technologies, and assess the potential for engagement with a Scottish Pavilion in 2025.

Scotland's presence

Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon, who gave a speech officially opening the Pavilion, said it enabled the Scottish Government to support Scottish businesses in the aquaculture sector to reach new audiences and potential customers, while promoting the innovation and quality of their products.

“The positive feedback from Scottish exhibitors highlights the importance of Scotland attending major international conferences such as these and I look forward to hearing more about the partnerships and opportunities created as a result,” said the minister.

“Following on from Aqua Nor’s success, I am now looking forward to continuing to promote Scotland’s innovative and ambitious aquaculture sector on the international stage at Aqua Sur in March. The event takes place in Chile, the world’s second largest producer of farmed salmon behind Norway, presenting opportunities to strengthen ties between our two nations. This includes increasing understanding of the Chilean aquaculture ecosystem, promoting our innovation and commitment to quality and high welfare standards, while also creating economic opportunities for Scotland.”

Stream of visitors

SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said: “The feedback we have received so far on the Scottish pavilion is overwhelmingly positive, although it may be too early to measure the tangible economic impact. There was a steady stream of visitors over the course of the event, underpinning the message that Scotland is innovative and open for business. It also lent a valuable helping hand to SMEs that may not otherwise have been able to attend.”

Elaine Jamieson, head of food and drink and life sciences at HIE, said she was delighted that the businesses who participated were benefiting from the contacts and conversations they had Aqua Nor.

“Whilst this post-event report is very positive, we know that commercial discussions are still developing, and the full trade and investment impacts of Aqua Nor 2023 will only be truly captured in a later business survey,” said Jamieson.

Individual headsets

Cameron Events won the contract to design, deliver, and manage the Scottish Pavilion and was supported by its supplier Collective Events. Arrangements have been made between by HIE and Cameron for storing the Pavilion components so that they can be reused at Aqua Nor 2025 or other events.

While the open, welcoming design of the Pavilion won general approval, it also meant that external noise from the rest of the exhibition hall made it hard to hear presentations being made by exhibitors.

HIE said its survey of participating companies received some very limited negative feedback about that issue.

“The PA system on the pavilion was at capacity, and any more volume would have impacted on neighbouring stands. A solution for future years may be individual headsets for audience members,” wrote HIE.