The 30-month programme – run by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) – targeted small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
It aimed to improve commercialisation of new, innovative products and services in the aquaculture sector, said industry body Scotland Food & Drink.
SAIC ceo Heather Jones said: “Through our extensive engagement with companies large and small across the supply chain, it became clear that SMEs in the HIE region would benefit from, and openly welcome, support to innovate and grow.
‘A truly landmark moment’
“To see those early discussions result in this new pilot scheme is a truly landmark moment and shows just how much can be achieved when different players unite over a shared goal.”
Aquaculture contributed about £1.8bn to the Scottish economy annually, and was of growing importance to Scotland’s economy with around 8,000 jobs, Scotland Food & Drink said.
The Scottish government’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland’s aquaculture industry is a real pillar of our rural economy, particularly for the Highlands and Islands, and this government is committed to working with partners across the sector to support continued sustainable growth.
“Maximising the opportunities that innovation can bring will be central in delivering the industry’s vision for the future of aquaculture. That is why it’s pleasing to see this collaborative programme come to fruition, which will provide a boost for the sector and support job creation.”
Double annual turnover
In October, a group of aquaculture organisations launched the 2030 Aquaculture Strategy, which aimed to double annual turnover to £3.6bn within the next 13 years. The sector could employ up to 18,000 people by 2030, according to the strategy.
HIE interim chief executive Charlotte Wright said: “We anticipate significant investment in the years ahead from aquaculture firms operating in the region. It is important that we use public sector funding to support innovation in a way that benefits the whole sector, including firms in the supply chain.
“In turn this will support the sector's growth as well as strengthen resilience of rural communities, particularly those in some of our most remote and fragile areas.”
Meanwhile, Scotland Food & Drink has launched a strategy to double the size of the nation’s entire food and drink industry to £30bn by 2030. The strategy – launched on March 23 – focused on three main areas to increase the industry’s value: people and skills, supply chain and innovation.
Aquaculture investment – at a glance
- £1M boost for Scottish aquaculture
- Aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises
- Increased innovation in supply chain