In­no­va­tion fund for aqua­cul­ture opens

The Oban Times - - News -

SMALL to medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) work­ing in the aqua­cul­ture sup­ply chain in the High­lands and Is­lands can now ap­ply to a £1 mil­lion in­no­va­tion fund.

An­nounced in March, the 30-month pi­lot pro­gramme Ac­cel­er­at­ing Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion (AAI), is led by HIE and de­liv­ered in part­ner­ship with Scot­tish Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Cen­tre (SAIC).

It of­fers SMEs the op­por­tu­nity of match fund­ing to help de­liver in­no­va­tive new pro­cesses, prod­ucts, ser­vices or tech­nolo­gies.

The pro­gramme has the po­ten­tial to boost in­dus­try turnover in the re­gion by £ 8 mil­lion and cre­ate up to 50 jobs.

The value of in­no­va­tive con­cepts can take dif­fer­ent forms – fi­nan­cial, com­mer­cial, eco­nomic, so­cial or pub­lic – but it must be mea­sur­able and it must ben­e­fit both the in­dus­try and the Scot­tish econ­omy.

Aqua­cul­ture is a pri­or­ity sec­tor for HIE and of growing im­por­tance to Scot­land’s econ­omy.

It is es­ti­mated to con­trib­ute as much as £1.8 bil­lion turnover a year to the Scot­tish econ­omy and sup­port around 8,000 jobs.

The Aqua­cul­ture Growth Strat­egy 2030, ‘A Strate­gic Plan for Farm­ing Scot­land’s Seas’, states the in­dus­try has po­ten­tial for this to in­crease to £ 3.6 bil­lion and 18,000 jobs by 2030.

Elaine Jamieson, head of food and drink at High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise, said: ‘The full range of projects, from £25,000 to £1 mil­lion, will be con­sid­ered. Where ap­pli­ca­tions are suc­cess­ful, the AAI pro­gramme could typ­i­cally pro­vide up to half the pro­ject cost.

‘ Where ap­pli­ca­tions don’t quite meet the pro­gramme cri­te­ria, the AAI team will point SMEs to more suit­able sup­port av­enues so they still re­ceive the help they need to de­velop their con­cept.’

Com­pa­nies can ap­ply for AAI fund­ing by sub­mit­ting a short ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est form.

This will then be as­sessed by the AAI team and, if suc­cess­ful, the sub­mit­ting com­pany will be in­vited to com­plete a fuller ap­pli­ca­tion.

Full de­tails on how to ap­ply, along with down­load­able forms and guid­ance notes, are avail­able at http://scot­tishaqua­cul­ture. com/ work-with-us/ ac­cel­er­at­ing- aqua­cul­ture-in­no­va­tion- pro­gramme/

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