SAIC – the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre – has reached a significant milestone in its membership base, as Scotland’s aquaculture sector increasingly looks to collaborative innovation to deliver sustainable growth.
Malin Group, the marine engineering specialist, and Isle of Skye Mussel Company – one of Scotland’s burgeoning community of seafood small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – have joined SAIC’s consortium, taking its membership beyond 150 organisations for the first time.
The consortium acts as a connecting point for different parts of the sector, including seafood producers, supply chain companies, regulators, and the public sector. Beyond aquaculture, sectors represented range from biotechnology, subsea companies, and equipment suppliers, to logistics firms and retailers.
More than half of SAIC’s membership (57%) is made up of SMEs, while another 31% is large organisations. Around half (48%) of the consortium is based in Scotland, while 28% are located in other parts of the UK and 9% overseas, reflecting the growing diversity of organisations with an interest in Scottish aquaculture and its R&D projects.
Consortium membership particularly grew in 2020, increasing by around 25% from February as SAIC and the sector sought to increase connections, deliver greater adoption of technology, and encourage new ways of working. Earlier in the year, the innovation centre launched its ongoing rapid-response funding programme to support investment in innovation at a highly challenging time.
By the end of the decade, Scotland’s aquaculture sector is aiming to sustainably increase its contribution to the economy to £3.6 billion – effectively doubling from 2016’s levels. The objective was outlined in the Aquaculture Growth to 2030 strategy, which also highlighted the crucial role of innovation in helping to meet the increasing global demand for farmed fish and shellfish.
Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, said: “The growth of SAIC’s consortium reflects the increasing commitment from aquaculture – as well as the many industries that support it – to innovation and collaboration. It also highlights the growing diversity of the sector, not only in terms of geography, but also in the types of businesses involved, their size, and areas of focus.
“That innovation is a priority for organisations throughout aquaculture – from fish feed producers to food retailers – reflects the growing recognition that the sector is more inter-connected than it has ever been.
“Organisations within it need to draw on each other’s skills and expertise to drive a sustainable future, and our consortium brings people together to connect, collaborate, and communicate, fostering dialogue and knowledge-sharing that ultimately translates into tangible commercial results for our members.”