AQUAEXCEL2020, a Horizon 2020 research infrastructure project, aims to support the sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector in Europe. AQUAEXCEL2020 comprises a large group of leading European aquaculture research facilities that work towards advanced integration and standardisation of tools for aquaculture research. AQUAEXCEL2020 aims to offer services tailored to the needs of the European aquaculture community and support and conduct world-class aquaculture research.
Similar to the forerunner project AQUAEXCEL (2011-2015), one of the key aspects of AQUAEXCEL2020 is to provide subsidised access to its top-class aquaculture facilities as well as numerous highly pertinent services for researchers from academia and industry. AQUAEXCEL2020 will also provide training for transnational access users, aquaculture researchers, technical staff and industry stakeholders.
As a partner in AQUAEXCEL2020, SINTEF provides also access to SINTEF ACE, our infrastructure developed for testing and verification of technical and operational solutions in sea-based aquaculture. By providing a combination of full-scale salmon production facilities, flexible test sites for various levels of exposure and state-of-the-art monitoring and communications equipment, the infrastructure will promote technical development for a more sustainable marine aquaculture.
Aquaculture provides about half of the fish for human consumption worldwide. The demand for fish is rising, but fisheries are not expected to grow due to fully or over-exploited fish stocks. Aquaculture production seeks to meet this increasing demand for fish, but while the aquaculture sector is growing in the rest of the world, it has stagnated in Europe in recent years. Sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector in Europe, based on efficient and environmentally responsible production of high value fish products, can be achieved by ensuring excellent scientific research and by the results being translated into innovation and industrial growth.
- AQUAEXCEL2020 will help to achieve this target by integrating 39 top class European aquaculture research facilities that cover all relevant scientific fields, fish species and systems. The project will provide a single access portal to high-quality, harmonised services and resources tailored to the needs of the European aquaculture community, support and conduct world-class research and provide the basis for a European aquaculture innovation system from basic research to applied science.
- Nearly half of the project’s €9.7 million budget will go into the provision of transnational access to research facilities and harmonised services for both academic and private sector users from industry, especially SMEs. Academic and industry researchers will then be able to perform their research projects with “free of charge” access to top EU aquaculture research infrastructures which are not available in their country of origin.
- AQUAEXCEL2020 will also provide training for transnational access users, aquaculture researchers, technical staff and industry stakeholders. A series of face-to-face and distance learning courses on aquaculture technology and fish biology will be offered over the five year duration of the project.
- AQUAEXCEL2020 will develop standardised guides and new tools for aquaculture research including a dedicated e-infrastructure which will support both actual and virtual research experiments. More than 10 new fish species (including Bluefin tuna, sole, and perch) will be made available for aquaculture research purposes.
The consortium comprises 22 partners based in 12 European countries, who are considered leaders in their respective domains of expertise.
Competences combined in AQUAEXCEL2020 range from biological sciences (genetics, nutrition, physiology, pathology) to technology (rearing systems, engineering, information and communication technologies), and integrative expertise such as system modelling and design. The partners expertise not only covers the range of the necessary academic scientific fields but also the many species that need to be considered to propose integrated aquaculture research infrastructures, as well as the access to specific environments (freshwater and marine, cold and warm water) and scales (small, medium and industrial scale).