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Scientists have discovered that sea acidification hampers mussel shell development.
Scientists have discovered that sea acidification hampers mussel shell development.

A new £650,000 Collaborative Innovation Fund which supports food and drink businesses working collaboratively on innovative projects will open for applications on Saturday.

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It is co-funded by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as part of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s recently launched Make Innovation Happen project. This was launched in May as the first step towards Ambition 2030, which prioritises innovation as critical to continued success in the sector.

The fund is part of a wider programme of innovation support to the food and drink industry from enterprise agencies and Scottish Funding Council of £1.1 million and enhances the broad range of innovation support already well used by businesses. It runs over a three-year period and collaborations may form independently or be part of an existing group.

'Increased competitiveness'

Elaine Jamieson, head of food and drink at HIE, said: “Innovation in food and drink is vital to empower Scotland’s businesses to respond to today’s consumer market. We are delighted to support and lead this new fund which exclusively focuses on innovative outcomes of scale and addresses key food and drink opportunities or challenges to help achieve growth for the sector.

“Research and industry insights tell us that SMEs often find it a challenge to undertake significant innovation activity on their own. By encouraging a culture of collaboration, we expect businesses to generate a much more proactive approach which will lead to new growth and increased competitiveness. We are hosting workshops in August to showcase the opportunity to apply to the MIH Collaboration Innovation Fund where businesses can share ideas and discuss how they can take forward an application."

'Collaboration can make a company stronger'

Jim Watson, director of innovation at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Collaboration can make a company stronger and lead to increased innovation and growth.  When companies work together they can share their ideas and capabilities to reduce costs and risks of entering new markets and investing in new processes, while accelerating time to market and the ability to respond to market threats.”

One recent example of successful collaboration is a project launched by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group and University of the Highlands and Islands with co-funding from HIE, the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre and the European Maritime Fisheries Fund, who now have a trial mussel hatchery under way in Shetland. This project centres on the testing of the commercial feasibility of producing spat. If successful, the pilot hatchery project will lead to a commercial-scale hatchery, resulting in higher and more reliable yields of spat, additional jobs and wider distribution of sites – all of which combined will help towards the Scottish shellfish sector’s growth ambitions of 21,000 tonnes annually by 2030.

For details on how to apply visit www.makeinnovationhappen.scot

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