Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has commissioned contractors, Risk and Policy Analysts Ltd, to take forward the project.
They will work with the industry to define the scope of the group, how it will create value and benefit for its planned membership and how it will have continuing purpose.
This could include creating new business opportunities and attracting investment, influencing and responding to national and global circumstances and dynamics, and long-term planning to support sustainable growth.
The group’s formation follows requests by industry representatives at the aquaculture supply chain summit in April 2019.
The summit was organised by HIE in partnership with Scottish Government, Marine Scotland and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).
It brought together 83 suppliers, producers and key representatives of the public sector to identify how to accelerate sustainable inclusive growth across the industry and its supply chain.
Presentations, live polling and facilitated round-table discussions focused on generating new ideas, with competitors exploring opportunities to collaborate.
In the coming weeks Risk and Policy Analysts Ltd will be reaching out to aquaculture supply companies and industry bodies across Scotland to help define the scope of the new entity. The RPA team includes Quercus, a Danish company with expertise in cluster formation – a particularly powerful format for business collaborations.
The aim is to secure an aquaculture supply chain cluster that will operate competitively and achieve success in growing the industry, at national and international levels.
Aquaculture already supports more than 12,000 jobs in Scotland and is worth £620 million to the economy. This is forecast to increase significantly as the sector’s growth potential is realised.
Its relatively low carbon footprint, compared to many other industries, will be increasingly important as Scotland and the UK move towards their ambitious net-zero targets.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“Aquaculture is crucial for Scotland’s economy and as we can see from this announcement, there is significant opportunity for further sustainable growth through collaboration and innovation. This project is an excellent initiative to help unlock that added value in the Scottish supply chain.
“Now more than ever, as we work to restart our economy sustainably after COVID-19, its crucial we do all we can to create new business opportunities and attract investment to help this sector reach its full potential.”
David Oxley, HIE’s director of business growth, said:
“Aquaculture is a hugely important industry in Scotland, particularly the Highlands and Islands. It is an extremely valuable source of skilled career opportunities, particularly for young people, across many of our islands and rural mainland areas. It is therefore also crucial in sustaining community resilience and attracting and retaining talent.
“Discussions at the summit last year highlighted a need for more speed, flexibility and adaptability, across the industry while maintaining high quality standards. This project is about addressing those needs and boosting collaboration and innovation in a way that helps our aquaculture sector grow to its full potential.
“We are very pleased to have engaged the expertise of Risk and Policy Analysts and look forward to working with them and industry partners over the coming months.”