SAIC boss Heather Jones says the centre's bid for £26.1m via the Stirling City Region Deal would establish the city as the UK hub for aquaculture excellence.

Aquaculture Innovation Centre bids for £26.1m

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) is targeting £26.1 million in funding as part of the Stirling City Region Deal.

SAIC says the money, building on its Phase 1 funding of £11.1m, would deliver:

  • A cumulative programme of innovative R&D of £94.4m
  • £690m additional sales across Stirling and Scotland
  • 1,842 new jobs, on top of 1,197 jobs created in Phase 1, totalling 3,039 jobs
  • A further £47m of projects, of which the University of Stirling would likely be involved in £33m
  • Stirling becoming the unquestioned UK hub for aquaculture excellence

Stirling-based SAIC says that by 2025, the estimated impact of its first five-year funding period from 2015-2020 will be £93m net additional gross value added to the aquaculture industry, 1,197 jobs and £272m net additional sales generated from £16.1m of planned public investment.

SAIC’s priority areas include establishing a reliable supply of mussel spat. Photo: SSMG

SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said: “An award of £26.1m would firmly establish Stirling as the UK hub for aquaculture excellence, contributing to an overall investment in R&D of £94.4m – a record amount for aquaculture in Scotland. It would provide a significant boost for SAIC’s work with industry, enabling us to achieve even more together and really cement Scotland’s position as a global leader in sustainable protein production.”

Gill disease

SAIC has been well supported by the aquaculture industry. To date, it has coordinated 15 projects worth a total of £11.64m, of which industry has contributed £6.58m (57%), SAIC £2.97m (26%), other funding £1.35m (12%) and academia £739k (6%).

Its priority areas, agreed with the industry, are to: address environmental and health challenges, particularly sea lice and gill disease; develop feeds that optimise fish health and nutrition; unlock additional capacity for aquaculture development through innovative, evidence-based approaches; and establish a reliable supply of mussel spat.

Lead expansion of aquaculture

Projects range from those of less than a year to multi-partner collaborations of up to three and a half years. Current projects include a cheaper, faster method of monitoring fish health, exploring ultrasound technology for use against sea lice, developing a mobile biomarker detection for seawater readiness of young fish and developing genetic tools for mussel hatchery broodstock.

Stirling MP Stephen Kerr has put his weight behind the bid. Photo: Stephen Kerr

Stirling MP Stephen Kerr is backing SAIC’s bid. He said: “Both SAIC and the research facility at our university are hugely important, and we should recognise the opportunity we have to significantly increase their capacity to lead the expansion of aquaculture across Scotland and the UK that we need to compete effectively around the world.”

Funding commitments

City Region Deals involve funding commitments from the Scottish Government, the UK government and local authorities, with the intention that the cash put in will generate a much greater return for the economy – something SAIC had proven it can do.

Edinburgh and South East Scotland’s City Region Deal has attracted £300m from the Scottish Government, alongside additional funding from the six local authorities, Edinburgh University and the UK Government. Regional partners expect that the new deal will deliver 21,000 new jobs for the area.

And the Scottish and UK governments have each committed £125m to the Aberdeen City Region Deal, supplemented by up to £44m committed by Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Council and other local partners.

The Scottish Government has pledged up to £135m for the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, with UK Government committing up to £53m, and the Highland council and regional partners pledging up to £127m over 10 years.

Delivering greater prosperity

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Tripartite discussions on the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the regional partners began earlier this year.

“The Scottish Government are working closely with the partners to understand their ambitions and proposals and how they could make a clear and measurable significant long-term contribution to delivering greater prosperity and fairness for the region and for Scotland as a whole.

“The Scottish Government are giving all proposals our full consideration and, depending on the progress made through tripartite discussions, we hope to be able to reach a Heads of Terms agreement as soon as possible.

“The scale of the Deal, and the projects included within it, will be subject to negotiation between both the Scottish and UK Governments and the city region partners.”

Published: 10/10/2017 at 7:10 am


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