The fourth round of the UK Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF) is now open for applications.
Part of the £100m UK Seafood Fund, it aims to ‘champion a sustainable future for our seafood sector by seeking ideas from innovators looking to introduce novel and practical solutions for the industry’.
The new round will provide an additional £3m ‘to support cutting-edge solutions that disrupt the status quo and help address challenges across the UK seafood sector’, taking the total funding made available under the scheme to £19m.
Open to innovators across fisheries, aquaculture and the seafood supply chain, funding will be provided for up to 18 months, and there is no cap on the amount that can be applied for – although a strong emphasis on value for money must be demonstrated in the proposal.
Any organisation with an innovative idea demonstrating potential benefits to any area of the UK seafood sector is eligible to apply. The call is a competitive procurement process. The fund accepts bids from groups of organisations working together. One organisation must apply as the lead supplier, but can subcontract with numerous organisations to deliver the project. Collaborative bids, especially those forging new relationships between sectors, are encouraged.
Administered by Cefas on behalf of Defra, the SIF launched in 2019 and has since supported almost 100 projects across the UK, spanning fishing, aquaculture and the seafood supply chain. Previous projects have pushed the boundaries of new technologies, and have investigated consumer habits, market gaps, animal welfare issues and the circular economy.
One high-profile project funded by the scheme, led by Fishtek Marine, worked to refine a low-impact method to catch scallops using illuminated pots (Fishing News, 2 June, ‘Scallop lights could be transformational’).
Dr Rob Enever, head of science and uptake at Fishtek, said: “Without doubt, the Seafood Innovation Fund was responsible for a new scientific discovery. The fund continues to facilitate the research investigating the potential for a new, low-impact fishery for scallops.”
In another funded project, Hook Marine Ltd aimed to improve safety at sea by field- testing a system that alerts fishing crew when their vessel is at risk of capsizing.
In Round 4, SIF is looking to further diversify the range of work funded. The fund welcomes applicants and collaborations from across the UK that draw together knowledge from the seafood sector and beyond, and apply novel solutions to sustainability challenges.
Newly appointed environment secretary Ranil Jayawardena said: “Britain has a brilliant fishing and aquaculture industry, and we are backing their cutting-edge ideas in order to help the British economy to grow.
“Through the £100m UK Seafood Fund we are funding ambitious projects using the latest science and technology to unlock potential across the seafood sector and supply chain.”
New Defra minister Mark Spencer, who is understood to have inherited the fisheries portfolio, said: “The additional £3m we are making available through the Seafood Innovation Fund today is about giving the seafood industry a boost and laying the groundwork for its success in the future.
“I encourage fishermen, businesses and experts from across the sector to come forward and apply to help secure our seafood industry for generations to come.”
Call 4 opened on 21 September, and the fund will accept applications until midday on 7 December. For more information on how to apply, go to: seafoodinnovation.fund/ apply
Project teams are also being offered the opportunity to submit their idea for feedback (in advance of a full application) via an Expression of Interest (EOI) form, up until 31 October. The form can be found at: seafoodinnovation.fund/apply-now
For more information on previously funded projects, and those that have received follow-on funding, visit: seafoodinnovation.fund/projects
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.