A consortium of research partners in Scotland has been awarded a £250,000 funding package to “revolutionise” Scottish fish farming.
Led by Glasgow-based satellite communications startup R3-IoT, the group will develop a software system that automatically captures large volumes of continuous sensor data across aquaculture sites securely in one place, where it can be processed, stored, and actioned.
The digital platform will be developed in parallel with the startup’s satellite communications tech, which brings connectivity to remote and rural areas helping firms to digitise business operations across multiple sites and locations.
R3-IoT’s platform will also automate the collection of data from a range of sensing technologies already in place, allowing fish farms to use this information to remotely manage their operations more efficiently.
Allan Cannon, CEO and co-founder of R3-IoT, said: “Aquaculture has ambitious plans to deliver sustainable growth and data can be a key enabler for the sector. But having data is only the first step – you also have to unlock its potential, which is what the digital platform we are developing through this project will deliver.
“The technology will help fish farmers understand operations across different sites and locations wherever they are, providing them with increased visibility, improved quality of, and access to, timely information. It will also allow them to remotely and quickly respond to data-driven insights to improve business performance.”
Cannon added: “The concept behind our data platform has been informed by the research we conducted as part of the initial feasibility study, interviewing more than 30 senior members of the fish farming sector – it will closely reflect what the sector has told us it needs.
“We have a great consortium working on this project, taking in a range of expertise and skills, and – having demonstrated the high reliability of the platform during a trial with a major salmon producer – we believe the results could be very high-impact.”
Funding for the project is being provided by the Seafood Innovation Fund, the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), the Data Lab and CENSIS, along with a host of other investors.
Heather Jones, CEO at SAIC, added: “This digital tool could bring another level of intelligence to aquaculture, allowing site teams to understand conditions on-site even if they are working remotely. Using sensor data they could, for instance, identify issues with a particular area of the farm being affected by tidal influx with increased levels of plankton and chlorophyll.
“Fish farmers will be able to decide the metrics and parameters that matter to them. When industry professionals see this in action, they may want to take it further and could even explore concepts such as preventative maintenance type models. Rather than sending an engineer to inspect a machine every month or so, they will be able to plan inspections when they are required, saving time and resource.
“Ultimately, it could be a powerful tool for fish farmers, helping them to enhance fish health and wellbeing, work with stakeholders, and potentially improve transparency – all of which can contribute to the sector’s sustainable growth.”
- Work surfing app to help Edinburgh’s remote workers
- Reusable 3D-printed facemasks helping frontline health workers
- New 3D model technology could speed up MS drug production
Bill Buchanan, Professor at Edinburgh Napier University, commented: “We need to build systems of the future which are data-driven and which support new ways to providing intelligence for our traditional industries.
“One of the major challenges relates to gathering data from remote locations, but R3-IoT overcome these physical barriers and open up a world of interconnected devices. The usage of satellite communications thus overcomes many of the problems we have in connecting to remote regions and should support a range of existing industries and support new business models.”
Buchanan continued: “A core part of this project is not just to collect, interpret and use fish farm data, but also to understand the security risks involved in data gathering, processing, analysis and storage.
“We are thus proud to collaborate on this project and aim to make sure the system is secure, trustworthy and resilient, by design and in its implementation. Overall, it is great to see an innovative Scottish company supporting our traditional industries and economic activity for key communities, but also in building towards the future.”