Funding opportunity: SAIC issues new call for proposals

SAIC is pleased to announce significant new grant funding for industry-led, collaborative applied R&D projects to align with innovation challenges of top priority within aquaculture.



  • Competition opens: 31 January 2020
  • Submission deadline for Expressions of Interest (EoI): 12 March 2020
  • Invitation to full application: 27 March 2020
  • Submission deadline for full applications: 7 May 2020

Decisions on funding will be made at the SAIC Board meeting on 28 August 2020, and successful applicants will be informed shortly after this date.

Subject areas of interest

All proposals must be relevant to at least one of SAIC’s Priority Innovation Areas (PIAs):

  • PIA 1: Addressing environmental and health challenges, particularly sea lice and gill disease, and developing feeds that optimise fish health and nutrition;
  • PIA 2: Unlocking additional capacity in Scottish aquaculture;
  • PIA 3: Shellfish and other non-finfish species.

What are we looking for?

With this call, SAIC is inviting applied R&D proposals that offer solutions to issues affecting the Scottish aquaculture sector. Proposals must be scientifically robust and will be assessed by SAIC’s Independent Scientific Panel (SISP). SAIC-funded projects must be able to demonstrate that they are leading towards potential economic benefit to the Scottish economy. Commercial uptake and financial impact are important measures of value, as is the quality of the scientific enquiry.

To be eligible for SAIC funding, your project must demonstrate industry support from – and be led by – a company operating within Scotland. We particularly welcome collaborative applications, including multi-party industrial groupings from the supply chain, across several species, and projects that draw on expertise from more than one higher education institute.

Proposals should have a Scottish higher education institution as the lead academic partner. Research institutions and non-Scottish higher education institutes may be eligible to participate as sub-contractors.

Project value and duration

SAIC will consider funding proposals up to the value of £440,000 (full project costs). This represents a SAIC contribution of up to £200,000, paid at 80% Full Economic Costs to the academic partner(s). Proposals should be match-funded by industry partners. This can be in the form of cash, in-kind, or a combination of the two. In previous years, the stronger the industrial leverage, the more attractive the proposals have been – and the more likely to secure funding.

As before, we also continue to welcome smaller-scale projects of a shorter duration (i.e. under £100,000 total project value, under 12 months total project duration).

Proposals should clearly outline their intended contribution to the Scottish aquaculture sector and the potential economic benefits of delivering the project.

How to apply

For further guidance on how to apply, please visit our Apply for Funding page and consult the Guidance Notes document.

Alternative funding routes

SAIC has a project pot of £2.9 million to leverage over the next five years. We are also committed to attracting a minimum of a further £3.5m of R&D funding into Scotland.

As the lead aquaculture innovation body in the UK, SAIC works closely with other funding streams with a view to encouraging and supporting greater investment in aquaculture innovation. This includes influencing and advising UK funding bodies on industry-led research priorities in aquaculture. In some cases, SAIC is in a position to offer a range of support measures for competitive applications into other funding competitions (such as the Seafood Innovation Fund and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. For example:

Seafood Innovation Fund is a UK Government fund administered through CEFAS of £10m over three years. It will open to new applications on 7th February 2020. Innovative projects in the areas of aquaculture, capture fisheries and seafood processing are all eligible. This funding scheme directs grants of between £50,000 for feasibility studies up to £250,000 for applied R&D projects, with grant funding going directly to industry. SAIC is potentially able to assist in contributing to any academic research costs associated with these applications.

Maritime & Fisheries Fund is a UK Government fund of £10m. Managed through Marine Scotland, and with support from SAIC, capital expenditure projects undertaken by companies may be supported.

SAIC is also able to offer support through financial contributions, networking, project team building, marketing and communications for other external funding calls from UK Government or other sources.

We are aware that many projects need support in ways that SAIC core funding cannot cover directly. However, with our extensive network of contacts and know-how, we can offer consultancy to applicants with a view to increasing their chances of success in third-party funding competitions. If SAIC cannot fund your proposal directly, we will always seek to direct it to another more suitable funding stream. Our innovation managers are available to advise you on how best to proceed.

SAIC reporting requirements

As a condition of the public funding that SAIC receives, SAIC projects are subject to a range of reporting requirements. This reporting enables our Board and funders to keep up-to-date with projects as they proceed. At the end of the project lifespan, a comprehensive final report must be submitted, with the findings and impacts of the project noted. We will share this report with our Independent Scientific Panel to inform feedback. The final report is part of the requirements for funding.

We also strongly encourage knowledge exchange through appropriate channels for each individual project. SAIC employs marketing and communications professionals who can help develop articles for trade and national press, and content for digital platforms, to maximise the impact and exposure of your work.