Bord Iascaigh Mhara launches new R&D fund at Europe’s largest gathering of seafood experts

Over 143 experts from 15 countries will discuss innovative technologies in the industry at the four-day international conference

Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, has launched a new Research and Development fund to support Irish companies’ innovation in the seafood sector and help grow the €850million industry in line with stated Government targets.

The launch is taking place as BIM hosts the West European Fish Technologists Association’s 47th Annual Conference in the Aviva stadium from the 9th to 12th October.

This international conference and networking event will bring together over 143 experts representing 50 of the top performing Irish and international seafood R&D institutes to discuss and gain valuable insights into new innovative technologies to add further value to seafood businesses.

With sales valued at €939million1 and representing 5% of total food and beverage exports2, Ireland’s seafood sector has been ear-marked by Government as a key area for growth and investment and already employs 11,000 people across full-time, part-time and seasonal roles3. The agri-food sector, with seafood as a key sub-sector, has the potential to grow exports to €19bn per annum in value by 2025, an 85% increase from the current three-year average4.

Speaking ahead of the event, CEO of Bord Iascaigh Mhara Jim O’Toole said: “The Government’s 10-year vision for the agri-food industry set out in Food Wise 2025 has not only identified the wealth of opportunities for seafood producers but also the role increased research, development and innovation can play in harnessing the export growth potential in this sector. By bringing value added products to the consumer, we could grow the seafood sector and larger agri-food sector by 85%.

“Through the launch of the new research and development scheme for seafood producers and our facilitation of access to research and development insights for seafood companies, BIM is addressing the gap between translating research into commercial products. We will continue to work closely with producers and SMEs to encourage innovation within the sector with the goal of further cementing Ireland’s position as a market leader in the global seafood sector.”

To further support the commercialisation of innovation in the seafood sector, Bord Iascaigh Mhara is providing an initial 100% grant aid fund of €400,000 in 2017 towards research and development to support innovation and the development of new technologies of benefit to the seafood sector.

Speaking at the event, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed said: “The hosting of such a significant international event further strengthens Ireland’s position as a global seafood leader. Bord Iascaigh Mhara has demonstrated how the objectives of the Government’s Food Wise 2025 strategy can be met through collaboration with technical leaders in this space from countries such as Norway and Iceland. It is our hope that companies will take advantage of the grant aid for R&D being announced here today to continue producing products that will put Ireland on the map as an important seafood producer in the global supply chain. This fund will continue to support the seafood sector into 2018 and beyond and will be crucial to helping the industry realise its potential.”

“The hosting of this conference is just one of the many ways that Bord Iascaigh Mhara collaborates and engages with national and international experts in seafood R&D to ensure the Irish seafood sector has access to cutting edge innovative technologies and knowledge.”