Funding Opportunities

Funding calls and third-party funding advice

We can help you find funding for your innovative project

You can find out more about SAIC's timed funding calls below. If you would like support with drawing down third-party funding, please contact us to find out how we can help:

How to apply

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

SAIC’s Call 4 2022 opened 25 October, with a deadline for applications 7 December. Funding decisions have been made and successful projects will be announced shortly.

For future funding applications, see below for information on eligibility, guidance notes etc.

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)

Step 2 – submit a full application

Your application will be assessed by the SISP (SAIC Independent Scientific Panel) and the SAIC team, 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 application 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

SECTION 1: Introduction

Launched in 2014 with £11.1m of Scottish Funding Council (SFC) support, SAIC (the Sustainable 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 five-year strategy:

  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 have operations in Scotland), and 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) or research institute can also apply.

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 cost.

If you are a HEI or research institute, you will be awarded funding at the rate of 80% Full Economic Costing (FEC). The remaining 20% does not constitute a contribution to the project by you, nor will it be payable to you by any other partner.

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

SECTION 4: Calculating costs

When completing an Expression of Interest, a ballpark cost is required. When completing a full project application, a detailed project cost breakdown is required. These should be calculated on an FEC basis and only those costs incurred between the start and end date of the project will be eligible for SAIC funding.

These include:

  • Consumables
  • Travel and subsistence
  • Small items of equipment
  • Access to specialist facilities
  • Staff costs
  • Training (where specific and necessary to the project)
  • Licensing new technologies
  • Patent filing costs
  • Software (where the software does not already exist within the consortium)

Ineligible costs include:

  • Audit, accounting, legal costs or interest charges
  • Advertising, entertainment or hospitality
  • Quality control, distribution or supply chain costs
  • Sick days, waiting time and non-productive time
  • Bonuses, profit-related pay, company car expenses and other discretionary staff benefits

SECTION 5: Project management

Each funded project will be allocated a SAIC Innovation Manager, who will be on hand to support the project throughout its development and lifetime monitoring progress, overseeing activities and participating in quarterly meetings.

SECTION 6: Marketing & PR

Key to encouraging a strong pipeline of innovative projects is ensuring that the industry, as well as the wider Scottish and UK audiences, are aware of the collaborative R&D already underway by SAIC and partners. As such, a condition of funding is that partners agree to have their project promoted by way of a media release.

These will be coordinated by SAIC and timed around key project milestones – for example, project approval, interim updates and project completion – with the nominated marketing & communications contacts of each project partner being kept fully informed of planned activity.

In addition, we ask that in the event of partners receiving direct approaches from the media at any stage of the project lifetime, they forward those enquiries on to SAIC to help coordinate.

SECTION 7: How to apply

You can apply for SAIC funding at any time. The first step is to submit a short Expression of Interest (EoI) form, available to download from our Resources page.* Return your completed EoI to, at which point you will be assigned a SAIC Innovation Manager who will assess your application.

If your EoI is successful, you will be invited to submit a full application form (which will available to download from Your application will then be assessed by the SAIC Independent Scientific Panel (SISP), followed by the SAIC Board, prior to a decision being made. If your EoI is unsuccessful, you will be given feedback as to why.

Rest assured, all EoIs, project applications and related discussions will be treated with the strictest confidence.

* For SAIC Call 4 2022, no EoI is needed - please submit a full application form.

SECTION 8: What to expect thereafter

If your project is approved for SAIC grant support, the lead academic of your project will receive a grant offer letter, which should be signed by the contract representative at his or her HEI/research institute and returned to SAIC.

This marks the start of the timed period within which the project partners must sign the collaboration agreement. All relevant dates will have been specified at the time of the funding call announcement. In the grant offer letter, successful teams will also be notified of the date by which the collaboration agreement needs to be signed. (A template collaboration agreement letter will be supplied along with the grant offer letter.)

Please note: Where collaborative agreements are not signed within the specified period, projects will need to be resubmitted to the SAIC Board for re-approval, unless pre-agreed with your Innovation Manager beforehand.