An Aqua Pharma peroxide bath treatment taking place in a salmon cage. Pulcea's technology makes the process more efficient and improves fish experience and welfare. Photo: Aqua Pharma.

Lice treatment project praised for ‘outstanding’ collaboration

A partnership between aquaculture innovator Pulcea and the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture (IoA) has received a top accolade for collaboration between business and academia.

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State-funded innovation agency Innovate UK has classed the collaboration as “Outstanding” – the highest ranking - for its Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

The three-year project started in 2019 with funding of £189,878 by Innovate UK and explored the use of acoustics to improve the outcomes of hydrogen peroxide treatment to remove sea lice from farmed salmon.

Rachel Brown: Brought ultrasound experience. Photo: Pulcea.

Knowledge transfer

Key to the success was the appointment of a veterinarian, Rachel Brown, experienced in ultrasound in other food producing sectors and keen to transfer her knowledge and expertise into aquaculture.

The initial research was funded by a £99,000 grant from the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) in 2016, which had confirmed the concept of using ultrasound for the treatment of sea lice.

By combining existing peroxide tarpaulin bath treatments with Pulcea’s acoustic-based technology, the KTP has proved it is possible to improve treatment efficiency and dramatically improve fish experience and welfare.

Impressive results

Pulcea technical director Ian Jamieson said: “Our KTP with the University of Stirling has been a great success, delivering impressive results and allowing our innovative technology to be developed so it can make a real difference to the aquaculture industry in the future.

“The support of SAIC has been invaluable and we are delighted with the recognition from Innovate UK, which highlights the progress that is possible when business and academia work together.”

KTPs bring together industry and academia to deliver business-led innovation projects. Funded by Innovate UK, they aim to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through knowledge exchange, technology, and skills development, with support from the UK’s leading universities. Leading the academic aspects of the project were the IoA’s Professor James Bron and Dr Armin Sturm, alongside Jamieson.


Rachel Brown, global innovation manager for Aqua Pharma Group (APG), Pulcea’s commercial partner, said: “This project has provided the perfect opportunity for the transfer of my skills and experience in veterinary ultrasound to the aquaculture industry.

“The knowledge triangle between associate, company and academic partner enabled the acceleration of the development of Pulcea’s innovation beyond what would have been otherwise possible. I am now focused on helping my international APG colleagues with the commercialisation of this research.”

SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said: “Pulcea uses underwater physics to enhance fish welfare and better manage the perennial challenge of sea lice. It’s fantastic to see the progress and this award for the KTP is a true testament to the excellent work of all participants involved.

“SAIC is committed to supporting fish health and welfare which is key to our sector’s sustainability. We are proud that the work we have funded has delivered new products and processes – helping minimise the environmental footprint and increase the economic impact of UK aquaculture.”