Apply for funding

Rapid Response funding call

SAIC funds projects that are industry-led, innovative and collaborative. All our calls are competitive, with the strongest proposals funded.

As well as timed funding calls, SAIC operates an ongoing Rapid Response call for smaller, shorter-duration projects.

To be eligible for Rapid Response funding, projects must:

  • Have at least one industry partner, with a registered office in Scotland
  • Involve at least one Scottish Higher Education Institution
  • Have a maximum grant request of £50,000
  • Be completed within 12 months of funding agreement
  • Fall within one of SAIC’s priority innovation areas (PIAs)

You can download the application form here, or contact us to find out more (

Timed funding calls

As well as our Rapid Response call, we issue timed calls for proposals. There is usually one call per year, targeted towards industry-defined topics.

To find out when a new call is announced, sign up to our newsletter for updates. If you are interested in responding to a timed funding call once it goes live, you can find out how to apply below, or contact us to discover more (

How to apply

SAIC regularly offers grant funding for industry-led, collaborative R&D projects to align with innovation challenges within Scottish aquaculture.

No timed funding call is live at the moment, but we will issue a new timed call for proposals in 2021. In the meantime, see above for our ongoing Rapid Response funding call. Alternatively, see below for more information on our timed funding calls - eligibility, guidance notes etc.

SAIC also provides help and advice on applying for external funding. We keep track of funding opportunities UK/Europe-wide, and can help point you in the right direction. Contact to find out more.

Step 1 – check your eligibility

Does your project meet all of the following criteria?

  1. Contribute towards at least one of SAIC’s priority innovation actions (PIAs)?
  • PIA 1 Finfish health and welfare
  • PIA 2 Unlocking additional capacity
  • PIA 3 Shellfish and other non-finfish species
  1. Have at least one industry partner? (One must be the lead partner.)
  2. Have at least one Scottish research partner?
  3. Identify and address a commercial need?
  4. Deliver an economic benefit?

(see Guidance Notes below)

(see Guidance Notes below)

Step 2 – fill out an Expression of Interest*

If you are eligible and have consulted our Guidance Notes, then fill out an Expression of Interest (EoI) form, downloadable from this page whenever a timed call is live. The EoIs will be assessed by SAIC technical staff and the SAIC Independent Scientific Panel (SISP).

* If you're applying for funding in the Rapid Response call, you don't have to fill in an EoI - just skip straight to Step 3.

Step 3 – submit a full application

If your EoI is successful, you will be invited to submit a full application form. This will be assessed by the SISP, followed by the SAIC Board, after which a decision will be made. Projects will be judged on scientific excellence, industry need and forecast economic impact.

If your EoI is unsuccessful for any reason, we will give you feedback. SAIC treats all EoIs, applications and related discussions in the strictest commercial confidence. Anyone reviewing these on our behalf will have signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement.

If you wish to discuss the eligibility of your project, please get in touch with the SAIC team on 01786 278318 or

Guidance Notes

Your guide to applying for grant funding from SAIC

Section 1: Introduction

Launched in 2014 with £11.1m of Scottish Funding Council (SFC) support, SAIC (the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre) was one of eight Innovation Centres aimed at increasing the pace of innovation in sectors of key economic and social importance within Scotland.

In November 2019, we announced a further £10m of core funding to drive, nurture and share innovation across the Scottish aquaculture sector during our second phase of operation. We also aim to attract a minimum of a further £3.5m of funding into industry–academic applied R&D over the next five years.

SAIC connects industry with academic research to spark innovation within the aquaculture sector, increasing its value to the Scottish economy. We work closely with industry to ensure that we channel our resources into the areas of highest importance to the Scottish aquaculture sector.

SAIC has laid out the following strategy for the next five years:

  1. Drive innovation through new sources of funding and bringing partners together from across the UK, with a focus on engaging with SMEs.
  2. Develop aquaculture skills and talent across Scotland through a focussed programme of mentoring; helping the growth of the Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) network, and working with undergraduates and schools to build awareness of aquaculture as a career.
  3. Sharing innovation throughout the industry by organising workshops, conferences, and disseminating information in new ways over the next five years.

Our Priority Innovation Areas (PIAs)

PIA1: Addressing environmental and health challenges, particularly sea lice and gill disease, and developing feeds that optimise fish health and nutrition.

PIA2: Unlocking additional capacity in Scottish Aquaculture.

PIA3: Shellfish and other non-finfish species.

The projects we co-fund

Each project we co-fund should contribute to one of the three PIAs outlined above. Equally, it must be a collaboration with at least one industry partner based in Scotland and one Scottish Higher Education Institution.

Projects must be innovative in their approach or lead to innovative solutions that will help support the Scottish aquaculture sector and associated supply chain.

How do we define innovation? As something novel that creates measurable value – be it commercial, economic, social or public – both for the sector itself and the Scottish economy.

In our first five years, the majority of the collaborative projects we funded involved more than one industry partner, in many cases multiple industry partners. And in around half of the projects, more than one university or research institution was also involved. We believe this increases the spread of knowledge and access to know-how across the aquaculture sector – both industrial and academic. We therefore encourage applications of this kind, which command widespread support from across the sector.

Technology readiness level (TRL)

Typically, the projects we co-fund sit within TRL 4 to 7, as defined by the European Commission:

TRL 1 Basic principles observed

TRL 2 Technology concept formulated

TRL 3 Experimental proof of concept

TRL 4 Technology validated in laboratory

TRL 5 Technology validated in relevant environment

TRL 6 Technology demonstration in relevant environment

TRL 7 System prototype demonstrated in operational environment

TRL 8 System complete and qualified

TRL 9 Actual system proven in operational environment

Discover more about TRLs here.

Section 2: Who can apply?

Any company that is active within Scottish aquaculture or a related sector (including those headquartered overseas but having operations in Scotland), and that is willing to contribute resources to the project – be it cash, in-kind or a combination of both – is eligible to apply.

In collaboration with an industry partner, any recognised Scottish higher education institution (HEI) can also apply. Scottish research institutes and other higher education institutions from across the UK and elsewhere may participate as sub-contracted parties to the main academic research lead.

Industry or academic, all participating partners must be a member of the SAIC Consortium. Not already a member? It’s free and easy to join: email for details.

Section 3: Level of funding

Generally, SAIC funding will be awarded up to a maximum of 50% of the total project cost. Therefore, if you are an industry partner (or a consortium of industry partners) you must be able to demonstrate that you are able to contribute a minimum of 50% of the total cost as a combination of cash or in-kind.

If you are a higher education institution, you will be awarded funding at the rate of 80% Full Economic Costing (FEC). The remaining 20% must be covered by your institution, and may not be reclaimed or cross-charged to other sources of funding.

Please note: SAIC complies with State Aid rules. Full details can be found at the Scottish Funding Council’s State Aid Registration page.