The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), based at Stirling University Innovation Park, has secured £1.7 million funding for state-of-the-art equipment to help address key issues within the industry.
The equipment will give researchers and the aquaculture industry new tools for tackling priority areas such as rapid detection of diseases and sea lice control. Their solutions could support the commercial success of companies based in Scotland both at home and abroad.
New equipment will include a state-of-the-art system capable of high-level lipid and protein analysis to advance researchers’ and producers’ development of sustainable alternative feeds. This will be based at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture and at the University of the Highlands and Islands. The first of its kind in Scotland dedicated to Aquaculture research, the liquid chromatography with mass spectometry (LC-MS/MS) system is also the system of choice for analysing shellfish toxins.
Other equipment funded by the SFC award will include a digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) system, a new technology that enables the detection of viral pathogens and diseases at very early stages, which will add significantly to Scottish researchers’ ability to detect and tackle disease outbreaks in Scotland.
Speaking at the UK Aquaculture Forum meeting in Brussels on Wednesday 5 November, Heather Jones, CEO of the SAIC, said: "I am delighted that within its first 6 months of existence, SAIC has leveraged a substantial sum for specialist capital equipment into Scottish universities, creating the capability for new innovative research projects to be developed in response to needs identified by the aquaculture industry.
"Businesses and researchers could find high-profile and profitable innovation opportunities by working together, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of the research projects that these new equipment purchases will enable."
The award came following a successful application to the Scottish Funding Council’s capital investment fund, part of a wider £14 million capital investment in Scotland’s Innovation Centres announced in August. The equipment will be installed at higher education institutions across Scotland, including the University of Stirling, the University of St Andrews, University of the Highlands and Islands and the University of Aberdeen.
Education Secretary Michael Russell said: "Innovation centres are helping to develop the skills that Scottish business needs to succeed in the global marketplace. By using our exceptional research base, we are able to respond nimbly to opportunities for potential growth.
"We will invest up to £124 million, over six years, in these projects which bring together excellence within our universities and entrepreneurship within our business sector to deliver real social and economic benefits.
"Investment in the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre represents a significant boost for the sector and will help our innovative firms to enhance their worldwide reputation."
Public Relations Officer