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Meet SAIC: the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre – connecting and funding researchers

A little while ago MASTS Directorate member Hannah Ladd-Jones met up with Bex Weeks and Benedikte Ranum from the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) to find out more about their objectives, funding research, training opportunities, PhD programme and more. Check out the below summary of their conversation to find out more about SAIC [less than 5 mins reading]

What is SAIC, and what is an Innovation Centre?

SAIC stands for Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre. It is one of seven Innovation Centres in Scotland that work to help academics with research ideas connect with the right industry bodies to facilitate putting collaboration into action: addressing commercial needs with research-based solutions.

Created in 2014, SAIC is run by a small Scotland-based team that has an international network of consortium members at their fingertips to help forge links with public- and private-sector organisations. As an Innovation Centre, SAIC has three workstreams to assist with aquaculture projects and research:

  1. Driving innovation – SAIC works to help the aquaculture grow in a sustainable way with key areas being finfish health and welfare, increasing the sector’s capacity, and shellfish and other non-finfish species.
  2. Nurturing innovation – through skills and training programmes, and through funded MSc and PhD places, as well as via internships, mentorship programmes, WiSA (Women in Scottish Aquaculture) and the Women Returners Programme.
  3. Sharing innovation – SAIC actively works to share the findings from its projects through collaborative communications with the wider aquaculture sector and beyond. This includes events, case studies, social media, videos and press releases.

 

How can SAIC help and work with university researchers?

SAIC’s friendly team not only match-makes researchers with relevant external aquaculture industry teams, and vice versa, they can assist project development through direct funding or reviewing and supporting external funding applications. They can help to bring in money from other sources, and supplement that or support it with in-kind contributions. Through SAIC’s Independent Scientific Panel (SISP), projects are quality-checked for research excellence, novelty and potential legacy.

Plus, all SAIC’s core funded projects have a lead academic member, so get on their radar so they also know about you! If your university or research institution is one of the 250+ member organisations of the SAIC Consortium, you will be able to access the Consortium Forum for free. Here, you can make connections with aquaculture professionals, contribute to discussions, and post your own news, polls and events.

What makes SAIC different?

An independent review of the economic impact of SAIC’s activities – based on 60 funded projects – forecast that by 2026, 600 new full-time equivalent jobs will be created. By the same year, these projects are expected to contribute to an increase in aquaculture turnover of £50m per year, of which £30m is directly attributable to SAIC. Real-world impact that has legacy for society.

SAIC can actively assist researchers find new and exciting project partners from across industry. They do not fund industry itself; funding goes directly to the academic partners. They operate to translate academic research into tangible outputs that are useful in a commercial or operational context. You don’t need to find the partners; they’ll work with you to do that!

What sort of projects is SAIC interested in?

A key feature of SAIC is that they wish to work with projects that aim to increase the economic impact of aquaculture while reducing the environmental footprint of aquaculture. Check out some of their case studies here. However, don’t be put off if your idea isn’t fully fledged: they can help develop your proposed idea. With over 250 consortium members – from small SMEs to large, multi-national corporations – projects can reach further than just Scotland for understanding and mitigating the impacts of the climate crisis on aquaculture.

They don’t only fund research projects: at the start of February, SAIC announced it is launching a PhD funding call for researchers working in all areas relevant to aquaculture. See examples of previously SAIC-funded PhD projects here.

What else does SAIC do?

The team runs a variety of training opportunities, such as their Leadership Development programme and the Future Innovators course. Read more about SAIC’s skills and training opportunities here. There’s also a short video here about a former ‘SAIC Scholar’ and what they’ve gone on to do.

How can people stay up to date with SAIC and their upcoming activities?

The team are on social media and have a newsletter, all are linked below:

 

With their permanent “door open policy”, let SAIC help kickstart your idea into a funded project with industry by emailing them at [email protected]. For every £1 of SAIC funding granted to research projects, a further £4.67 is leveraged from industry and other funding sources.

 

 

MASTS Resources

We’re working behind the scenes to bring you a suite of useful, and updateable, resources including: 

  • Find an expert
  • Find facilities & equipment
  • MASTS Publications

 

If you would like to be updated when the resources section is live please let us know.