Invest in existing excellence, report finds

A SURVEY to gauge support for a Scottish aquaculture centre of excellence has found that investment should be channelled into existing facilities first and foremost.
But there was also ‘strong’ backing for a network of innovation excellence for Scottish aquaculture.
The study, commissioned by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and conducted by former Marine Harvest Scotland managing director Alan Sutherland, took views from across the industry.
There was a response rate of more than 50 per cent (‘over 100 industry members’) to SAIC’s survey, with respondents coming from senior management, academia, industry bodies and government agencies, said SAIC.
The five key findings of the report – Exploring the concept of a centre of innovation excellence for Scottish aquaculture – were:
 

  • The sector is strongly in favour of a centre of innovation excellence – or network of innovation excellence – for Scottish aquaculture;
  • Investment should be channelled into existing facilities first and foremost, supported where appropriate by new infrastructure to address any gaps in provision;
  • Provision of facilities should be coordinated by a single entity, ideally an existing organisation;
  • Respondents favoured a consortium leadership model with strong industry representation;
  • Initially, the centre of innovation excellence will require public sector pump-prime funding, but should over time become commercially self-sustaining.

Sutherland said: ‘The idea of having a dedicated centre of innovation excellence for Scottish aquaculture has been discussed for several years now, albeit at an informal level.
‘This early-stage study makes the informal formal, confirming that there is indeed strong cross-sector support for such a concept and identifying perceived gaps in the existing R&D infrastructure.’
SAIC CEO Heather Jones said: ‘The report recommends establishing a steering group of supportive parties to explore how best to take the centre of excellence concept to the next stage, as a precursor to any further commitment.
‘We look forward to contributing to the work of that steering group wherever we can, further helping ensure that industry priorities are addressed.
‘We will also offer the study as advisory input to the newly formed Industry Leadership Group tasked with overseeing the actions set out in the recently launched Aquaculture Growth to 2030’ strategy.’
Download a copy of the centre of innovation excellence report atwww.scottishaquaculture.com. For a printed copy, email lorna@scottishaquaculture.com