Highlands and Islands Enterprise has launched a new research project on how new technologies such as blockchain can be used by seafood businesses across Europe’s most remote regions.
The 18 month research programme, called ‘DisruptAqua’, will examine how cutting-edge technology could be used to generate sustainable growth in northern Europe’s marine economy.
Backed by the European Union’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) 2014-2020, the research will examine which specific ICT technologies such as blockchain, internet of things and artificial intelligence are most suitable for Arctic seafood businesses, with analysis of their potential benefits and costs.
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: “This project promotes the innovative use of existing and new technologies, helping the industry meet the increasing demand for fish and supporting high skilled jobs.
“It will not only help seafood businesses in remote regions harness the potential of new technologies, it will also strengthen our trade and investment links with our Nordic neighbours.”
The NPA programme brings together the northernmost regions of Europe and the Arctic, including Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, as well as parts of Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Norway.
DisruptAqua has secured €85,000 from the NPA, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), while HIE will contribute €17,500 and bring in a further €35,500 in funding from the ERDF, with the rest made up from the other partners.
Elaine Jamieson, head of food and drink at HIE, said: “Aquaculture is an important economic activity in parts of the Arctic region. Scotland has been cooperating with our Northern Periphery and Arctic neighbours for over 25 years on addressing common challenges and opportunities and delivering tangible outcomes to businesses and communities in the sparsely populated areas in the north.
“We are especially delighted to lead on this project in light of the recently launched Scottish Government’s Arctic Policy Framework which recognises the need for even closer Scottish-Arctic cooperation.
“The model developed through this project will build on the existing knowledge across Scotland, Norway and Iceland. It will help ensure blockchain traceability of high value seafood products through the supply chain, from primary producer to consumer, ensuring value associated with provenance, environmental stewardship, quality and trust.”