A seaweed nursery in Argyll is set for growth after securing investment funding of up to £75,000 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The £150,000 project aims to expand and commercialise the nursery at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), the marine scientific research institute at Dunstaffnage near Oban. The nursery will be operated by SAMS Enterprise, the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of SAMS, at the European Marine Science Park, Dunstaffnage.
The investment will be used to increase production capacity, improve efficiency, advance the Institute’s applied research capabilities and support the rapidly growing seaweed farming industry throughout the UK. It will also support 1.5 full time equivalent skilled jobs.
The nursery premises have been reconfigured to optimise production with refitted laboratories, upgraded seawater supply and installation of specialist equipment.
Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: “The European Marine Science Park is a major hub in Scotland’s growing marine economy. The expanding cluster of activity here is very much founded on the links between cutting edge scientific research and the expanding range of commercial opportunities.
“The seaweed nursery at SAMS Enterprise, which of course is backed by the global scientific expertise of SAMS itself, is both innovative and crucial to the growth in Scotland’s seaweed industry. It may also attract new investors into the EMSP business cluster, which would strengthen our regional economy.
“I am very pleased we have been able to provide support and look forward to seeing the project develop.”
SAMS Enterprise is at the heart of the seaweed industry’s development, including research, innovation and commerce, as part of Argyll’s wider aquaculture economy. It produces seeded line for both commercial and research purposes and has a growing role in education and training for seaweed farming.
SAMS said the seaweed industry is the world’s fastest growing area of global aquaculture production, currently worth over £11bn a year.
Mike Spain, head of SAMS Enterprise, said: “This very welcome support from HIE supports the ongoing work of SAMS in supporting this emerging industry, which is a growing player in the blue economy on the west coast of Scotland and further afield throughout the UK.
“SAMS has been at the leading edge of global macro and micro algae and marine biotechnology research and development for more than 100 years and has been a trailblazer in seaweed farming for two decades. This science-led expertise is translated to practical applications via our commercial arm, SAMS Enterprise, as we work to enable productive oceans, while safeguarding the marine environment.”