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Industry-wide support for a centre of innovation excellence, says study

Friday, 16th December 2016

A scoping study into the concept of a centre of innovation excellence for Scottish aquaculture has found industry-wide support for the initiative.

Commissioned by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), and conducted by independent consultant and respected industry figure Alan Sutherland, the study set out to gauge appetite for a centre of innovation excellence and identify whether there is a case for the concept to be explored further.

Over 100 industry figures ranging from senior management and eminent academics to representatives from industry bodies, government agencies and non-governmental organisations contributed their views – a robust response rate of over 50% that provided an unprecedented insight into the needs and wants of the sector.

The resulting report, ‘Exploring the concept of a centre of innovation excellence for Scottish aquaculture’, highlights five key findings:

  • The sector is strongly in favour of a centre of innovation excellence – or network of innovation excellence
  • 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.

Comments Alan Sutherland: “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.”

The report goes on to propose a number of priority actions. Says SAIC CEO Heather Jones: “First and foremost, 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.”

The findings of a second SAIC-commissioned study, this time mapping Scottish aquaculture innovation priorities to 2030 and conducted by Imani Development, are due to be published early in 2017.

You can download a copy of ‘Exploring the concept of a centre of innovation excellence for Scottish aquaculture’ from the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre website. Alternatively, for a printed copy, email

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