Could smart boats net you a funding boost?

With all of the talk of Boris Johnson’s cabinet choices and promotion to Prime Minister you may have missed a recent Government announcement which could present an exciting oppor-tuna-ty for the Seafood sector.

On the 19th July Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced a £10 million research & development fund specifically for the UK fishing & seafood industries called the UK Seafood Innovation Fund.

The Government claims that the sheer scale of the fund will provide a real boost to a sector which contributes roughly £1.4m to the UK economy and focuses on ‘delivering longer term, cutting-edge innovation across the seafood sector’.

Is it available to me?

The fund claims to be wide-ranging and to cover ‘all parts of the seafood sector’ and references previous innovations such as virtual watch rooms for vessels as well as suggesting the use of artificial intelligence for fishermen as a potential avenue for exploration.

The only exclusions mentioned are for freshwater fishing & recreational fishing with the Government website suggesting ‘This is an open competition. Cefas welcomes applications from all sectors. Your products must benefit the sustainability and productivity of the seafood industry. Applications for collaborative projects that include both seafood sector organisations and technology businesses are encouraged.

There are no size limits for organisations as long as they are based within the EU with an innovative idea which will benefit the long-overlooked industry.

How do I apply?

Applications are open now but you will have to be quick as the first ‘call’ closes in early September with a second call expected in the new year.

The fund is being delivered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and can be accessed here. Be prepared to have full details of your proposals ready and click ‘register interest’ on the Delta procurement portal.

As has seen seen with Corporation Tax research & development tax credits the definition of research & development is often broader than you think, so if you have been putting off a large project or trying something new due to a lack of funding it may be worth thinking if your ideas meet the criteria.