11/14/2018 10:13:13 AM News

Scottish Sea Farms receive £1.28M R&D support from Scottish Enterprise

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Salmon farming company Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) is to launch a new £18 million Centre of Excellence in Aquaculture Research and Development, with the aim of improving how fish are farmed in Scotland.  The new facility will be a sector first, and is expected to create up to 40 new jobs in rural Scotland.

The new Centre for Excellence will tackle a range of challenges affecting the fish farming sector today, including environmental control, health issues and production efficiencies.  The investment, which includes £1.3 million of R&D support from Scottish Enterprise, will help the company develop new, innovative processes and technologies, digitise salmon production and - for the first time - bring additional knowledge, skills and R&D in-house.

The investment represents SSF's first significant R&D programme and is expected to help increase its turnover by £46 million over the next ten years.  The centre will be located at Barcaldine near Oban, where the company is currently building a new £48 million bespoke, on-shore production site on the banks of Loch Creran.

The investment was welcomed by the Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy Kate Forbes MSP, who visited the facility on November 13. 

She said: " Scotland has a thriving food and drink sector with salmon exports alone growing by 35 per cent during 2017, recognising the global reputation for our quality produce.

"Helping to grow this even more remains a priority for us, so it's great to see an ambitious company like Scottish Sea Farms carrying out increased innovation activity, particularly in the primary food production sector, which historically has had lower levels of innovation.  I'd like to congratulate the company on raising the bar, and wish them every success on their growth journey."

Kirsten Binnie, who leads Scottish Enterprise's engagement with the salmon farmer added:" Scottish Sea Farms is already a national success story, employing more than 430 people across the country. Its hunger for growth is driving forward this latest project - the first of its kind in the sector - which will not only maximise production at its new facility at Barcaldine and create new jobs in Scotland, but also reinforces our strong, innovative and forward-thinking food and drink sector.

" We have worked intensively with the company since 2010, helping it deliver innovation, business improvements and international activity.  During this time, we've seen it grow to become the second largest salmon producer in the UK.  With this latest support, SSF can continue to go from strength to strength and deliver its future ambition."

Commented Scottish Sea Farms Managing Director, Jim Gallagher: "Researching and developing new approaches and technologies is key to esuring that we continue raising the healthiest fish in the most responsible but also the most environmentally sustainable way, and this latest £18.3 million investment aims to advacne our work in both areas. 

"The £1.28 million support from Scottish Enterprise menas that we will be able to do more of this planned R&D even sooner, accelerating both the innovation and the anticipated benefits for fish ehalth and welfare and for the environment."

Highlands and Islands (HIE) has been working closely with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Sea Farms to deliver this project.  Area manager for HIE Argyll and the Islands Jennifer Nicoll said:"Fish farming is already a key employer in the region, and the location of this new aquaculture research centre at Barcladine is really good news for Oban and for Argyll.  it brings not only hig-quality employment, benefitting from a world-class marine business and research cluster literally just down the road at the European Marine Science Park, but in addition its research will help drive business innovation and improve salmon production, all of which contributes to supporting our rural and coastal economy."

Photograph from Scottish Sea Farms.