Sector innovation and knowledge exchange processes
The creation, communication and application of knowledge for the advancement of aquaculture science and practice is rarely a simple linear process. It is more often iterative with progress facilitated and hampered by a wide range of social, cultural, political and economic factors. Understanding relevant drivers and constraints in widely differing contexts can make an important contribution to boosting economic development efforts. A common focus for this analysis is the process of innovation - what leads to changes in aquaculture technology or business practices or value chain configuration. Also relevant is an understanding of learning processes and community networks and how these might be affected by policy interventions or changes in business cultures.
Examples of work in this area include:
- BlueEDU - An Erasmus+ Sector Skills Alliance which is exploring the skill needs and training provisions within the European cage-based aquaculture industry - See our Current Projects Page for further details.
- EURASTIP - An EU Horizon2020 project facilitating cooperation between European and Asian aquaculture sectors. The Institute of Aquaculture is helping to build national multi-stakeholder platforms for aquaculture in Thailand, Vietnam and Bangladesh and also build new linkages and initiatives in aquaculture education. See our Current Project Page for further details.
- AQUA-TNET - the EU Erasmus Thematic Network for Aquaculture Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management. This network was funded for nine years and was coordinated by Stirling over the last three. It brought together between 80 and 100 organisations involved in aquaculture sector education and training from almost all EU Member and Associated States. Activities included focus on innovations in learning and teaching (especially involving the Internet and ICT), the role of generic skill development and enhancing international mobility opportunities. The overall work of the network was summarised in a special edition of Aquaculture International and a separate website was set up to host training materials and courses based around industry case studies (AquaCase).
- Vocational Aqualabs - An EU Leonardo da Vinci project developing generic training for early career researchers. Sustainable Aquaculture Research Group staff led an innovative training course on Entrepreneurship which involved competing national teams, industry mentors and presentations and judging at an international aquaculture conference. Inputs were also made to courses on project management and experimental design and statistics.
- SARNISSA - An EU 7th Framework Project to create a network for knowledge exchange in Sub-Saharan Africa. This was coordinated by the Sustainable Aquaculture Research Group and the "Community of Practice" that was established has remained very active well beyond the period of funding through an e-mail discussion list and Facebook Group.
- ASEM Aquaculture Platform - Another EU 7th Framework Project coordinated by Ghent University and focusing on research, teaching and industry links between Europe and Asia. The Sustainable Aquaculture Research group worked with colleagues in the Aquatic Animal Health Research Group to lead a workpackage to strengthen EU-Asia collaboration on aquatic animal health issues. A separate web site was developed and information shared through the Scoop.It service.
- Through the AQUAINNOVA project, The Sustainable Aquaculture Research Group contributed to the development of the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform (EATiP) Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) in the areas of Knowledge Management and Integration with the Environment. This former particularly drew on experience in the AQUA-TNET and AQUAEXCEL projects and helped establish priorities for future work.
- AQUAEXCEL - The Sustainable Aquaculture Research Group are coordinating Transnational Access to European Aquaculture Research Infrastructures. This programme for enhancing international collaborations and knowledge exchange was highly successful under the EU 7th Framework Programme and has now been renewed under Horizon 2020.
- CSN-INTRAN - an EU 5th Framework project "The Aquaculture Innovation Network" led by the University of Stirling and involving a consortium of research organisations, technology companies and sector associations. This particularly initiated and studied technology transfer processes between established and New Member States of the European Union post enlargement in 2004. Examples included the transfer of UK trout vaccines to Poland, German recirculation technology to Latvia and Estonia and ideas on carp value addition and marketing from France to Czech Republic and Hungary.
Application of information and communications technologies
The ways in which data and information can be collected and utilised in the management of aquaculture enterprises is a topic for research, teaching and consultancy advice. The rapid development of Information and Communications Technology in recent decades not only provides a means to improve process management, it has also enabled the upscaling of facilities and reduction in production costs. Significant areas include feed and production management, biomass estimation, harvest planning and optimisation, behaviour monitoring for health and welfare, product quality and traceability and the monitoring of equipment and health and safety issues. Analysis of data from a wide range of sensors can provide new insights into system performance and opportunities for optimisation. It can also be used for applied research and fed-back to farm staff for knowledge building and skill development.