BIM’s Seafood Development Centre Extends Network to Killybegs and Letterkenny

Signing the MoU

Signing the MoU

Today (Thursday 12 December 2013), BIM’s Seafood Development Centre (SDC) signed a memorandum of understanding with Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT). The agreement means that the innovative services offered by the Seafood Development Centre, based in Clonakilty, Co. Cork will now be offered to seafood companies from the Institute’s campuses in Letterkenny and Killybegs. This is a valuable outreach function, making the services of the Seafood Development Centre more accessible to seafood companies in the North West. In addition, the agreement aims to address the current deficit of graduates from third level taking up roles within the Irish seafood sector through a ‘Seafood Graduate Scheme’.

The Irish seafood processing sector is worth €846 million per annum and potentially offers promising career prospects for young business, product development and culinary graduates. The Seafood Graduate Scheme aims to raise awareness and access to the seafood sector for graduates. This Scheme will allow LYIT to offer its graduates placement opportunities to gain experience at BIM’s state of the art development centre and enhance their employment potential as a result.

Seafood companies will also now be able to avail of the services offered by the Seafood Development Centre locally in Killybegs and Letterkenny. This includes the ability to market test and trial new product and process ideas before having to invest in full commercialisation and capital investment costs. The graduates working through the Scheme will be exposed to an array of seafood companies with varying product ideas. They will have the opportunity to work with these companies from initial idea generation through to market development and industrial scale-up for production.

Speaking at the signing of the MOU, Jason Whooley, CEO, BIM said, ‘This agreement is a major positive step in ensuring that the skills and expertise offered by the Seafood Development Centre are more accessible in one of the most important seafood processing areas in Ireland. It will also strengthen awareness of the seafood sector amongst LYIT graduates, introducing them to the business of seafood at one of its most exciting and innovative levels.’

Paul Hannigan, President at LYIT, stated that the Institute is excited about the opportunities that this MOU will create in the years ahead. “This initiative is being launched at a time when funding in the third level education sector has been under pressure for several years. Our partnership with BIM is a clear demonstration of LYIT’s desire to build upon existing relationships and structures with industries in the North West region and beyond. It will also provide a limited number of outstanding opportunities for LYIT graduates to work closely with a range of innovative seafood companies”.

As part of today’s partnership, BIM will fund a Graduate Masters Bursary to enable a graduate to undertake Masters research that is of direct relevance to the Irish seafood industry. The successful student will work with both LYIT’s academic mentor and an industry mentor chosen by BIM to research an area specific to seafood business development. The student will also have the opportunity to work as a Seafood Development Centre outreach source working with a number of seafood clients in the North West. The Masters student will work through BIM’s Killybegs office and the LYIT School of Tourism’s Department of Gastronomy and Culinary Arts in Killybegs.

The MOU signed today also gives BIM and LYIT the option to engage in special projects for the purpose of supporting the Irish seafood industry. Such projects could involve BIM availing of the academic and business expertise available in LYIT (e.g. food product development, product design/packaging, food product testing, etc.). LYIT may also engage BIM’s expertise and facilities on specific seafood projects.

Pictured at the signing were, back row L to R: Paul Ward, Seafood Development Manager, BIM; Fintan Moloney, LYIT; Justin Walsh, LYIT and Donal Buckley, Business Development & Innovation Director, BIM
Front row L to R: Jason Whooley, Chief Executive, BIM and Paul Hannigan, President, LYIT