Stirling University set for build of ‘world class’ facility featuring tropical aquarium

PLANS have been approved for the £17 million build of a ‘world class’ aquaculture research facility at the University of Stirling.

The National Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Hub (NATIH) will bring together experimental aquatic facilities – including a new tropical aquarium – with ‘state-of-the-art’ laboratories, as well as space dedicated to business incubation and acceleration.

Aquaculture is described by the university as one of the world’s ‘fastest growing’ sectors, with an estimated global growth rate of 8%. It added that NATIH will position University of Stirling expertise at the ‘forefront’ of the expansion – whilst also delivering and increasing the economic, social and environmental benefits for the industry, and informing modern commercial aquaculture markets.

It continued by saying that the impact of the ‘pioneering’ work will be felt both in Scotland, where the sector has plans to double its output by 2030, and internationally, where the aquaculture sector has a prominent footprint in Africa, Asia and South America.

Professor Simon MacKenzie, head of the University of Stirling’s institute for aquaculture, said, “This is an important milestone in the development of the National Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Hub. There is an enormous role for aquaculture to play in ensuring that the world has a secure and sustainable supply of food.

“The hub will develop and reinforce a strong working relationship between the university’s researchers and the global aquaculture industry, ensuring that the ideas, interventions and solutions developed will have a meaningful impact where they are needed most, and deliver jobs, growth and prosperity.”

Stirling Council depute leader, councillor Chris Kane, added, “It is fantastic to see city region deal projects move even further into delivery phase, especially one like this, which can bring growth and investment to the area.

“This is a blossoming stream of environmental research and the university’s work through the city region deal investment places Stirling at its vanguard, cementing the city’s reputation as hub of innovation.”

The build is being funded via a £17 million investment from the UK Government, as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire city region deal – which is worth an over £90.2 million from both the UK and Scottish governments.

UK Government minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart, added,”Scotland has huge potential for growth in aquaculture, which represents a significant opportunity for rural and coastal communities.

“The UK Government is investing £17m in this hub, which will keep Scotland at the cutting edge of a global industry, bring in new jobs and investment, and ensure sustainability remains at the forefront.

“Across Scotland we are investing £1.75 billion in regional projects to level up communities everywhere.”