What is the UK Seafood Innovation Fund?

The UK Seafood Innovation Fund supports the UK’s fishing, aquaculture and seafood industries to deliver cutting-edge technology and innovation. By supporting ambitious projects with a long-term view, the fund aims to kick-start a step-change in the productivity and sustainability of UK seafood into the future. 

The SIF programme is now part of the government’s UK Seafood Fund. The SIF programme forms part of the Science and Innovation pillar. Defra administer the Fisheries Industry Science Partnership scheme (UK FISP) which is also part of the Science and Innovation pillar.

Running since 2019, the SIF programme, administered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) has previously run four funding calls. SIF has funded feasibility study projects up to £50,000, whilst R&D project funding has ranged from £85,000 to just over £600,000. 

The programme supports projects that aim to deliver longer-term, cutting-edge innovation across the seafood sector and supply chain, from early-stage research to commercial viability. 

From experts in the seafood space – cutting-edge businesses within the fishing, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors – to innovative thinkers in tech, engineering, data science and app development, let’s innovate together. 

Who can apply?

The UK Seafood Innovation Fund runs open competitions, and welcomes applications from both inside and outside of the seafood sector. Your idea, technology or product must benefit the sustainability and/or productivity of the UK seafood industry. 

The fund is open to all organisations who have an innovative idea meeting the objectives of the fund. Non-UK organisations can apply as a project lead or can be part of an application as a subcontractor, but your project must demonstrate strong links with the UK seafood sector. Collaborative projects including both seafood sector experts and technology businesses are encouraged.

For more information on whether you are eligible to apply for the UK Seafood Innovation Fund, please read ‘Am I Eligible?’ on our FAQs page

What is disruptive innovation & technology?

The UK Seafood Innovation Fund is particularly keen to hear from applicants bringing novel innovation and technology to disrupt the seafood sector. These disruptive innovations’ should bring techniques, skills and processes that can improve on current practices and bring significant benefit to the sector. Watch our film on what innovation means to SIF here.

Disruptive innovations may have the potential to be scaled up and could be applicable to any part of the seafood supply chain – from boat or farm to plate.

Examples of disruptive innovation may include, but are not limited to:


Innovations in feed, biotechnology, health, robotics, logistics, storage.

Wild Catch Fisheries

Innovations in gear, bycatch reduction, improving catch recordings, logistics, storage, transport.


Innovations in robotics, logistics, traceability, packaging, storage.


Innovations in logistics, traceability, packaging, supermarket storage, selling point tools.


Innovations in fishing gear around target catch, bycatch avoidance and selectivity, monitoring and reporting of harvesting activity.

Final Client

New, intuitive tools for making decisions on purchase or consumption.

Cross-channel Technologies

Innovations in traceability, artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, satellite technologies, big data and marketing tools.

Safety and Welfare

Innovations leading to better working conditions for fishers and fish-farmers, or that lead to higher welfare for animals within the supply chain.

Climate Change

In the context of the UK Government declaring a ‘climate emergency’, innovations are required that reduce carbon impacts of aquaculture and fishing, accelerate or enhance best practice in this area, and effectively raise awareness of low-carbon options already available.

The UK Seafood Innovation Fund is also looking to hear from applicants with ideas about how to transfer existing technology from other sectors into the seafood sphere. These technologies already exist in other, unrelated sectors. Relevant applications to the UK Seafood Innovation Fund must outline how technologies could be applied to deliver innovation and benefits to any aspect of the seafood sphere. 

Identification and development of innovations may require: 

Programme Administration and Governance

This funding programme is administered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Cefas has been selected to administer the fund due to its extensive knowledge, skills and experience in and around the seafood sector and related industries. Cefas are not eligible to apply to the Call 3 funding round.

All applications to the fund are assessed as per a three-step assessment process set out on the FAQ page. Any information contained within applications to the fund, or within Expression of Interest (EOI) submissions, is kept strictly confidential and is not shared outside of the SIF management teams without permission.

There is a requirement for Executive Board and Steering Group members to have expert knowledge of the seafood sector and related industries, and it is therefore likely that conflicts of interest will arise during the assessment process. When discussing specific applications, members of either group must declare and have documented any conflict of interest prior to discussing each application, and the relevant members do not have any influence over or involvement in decision making for the given application. There is no opportunity for Steering Group members to influence the decision making for applications from their own organisations. An independent Chair has been appointed to the Steering Group to monitor the application review process and ensure it is open, fair and transparent throughout.

Further information about the role and membership of the SIF Steering Group and Executive Board is outlined below.

Our Steering Group

Comprising representatives from the fisheries, aquaculture, academic, regulatory and innovation sectors, the Steering Group provides invaluable advice to ensure that the UK Seafood Innovation Fund supports a breadth of innovative projects. The Steering Group meets regularly to keep abreast with the fund’s progress. 

The Steering Group also has a crucial role in reviewing applications to the fund. Once the group reaches consensus, they make recommendations to the UK Seafood Innovation Fund Executive Board about which projects should receive funding.

Meet our Steering Group

Our Executive Board

To ensure a holistic, transparent and UK-wide approach in administering funds, the Executive Board has the final say over which projects will be funded under the UK Seafood Innovation Fund, based on the recommendations from the Steering Group. 

Our Administration Support staff from the SIF programme management team are part of the Executive Board to provide administrative support to the board. These members are clearly indicated as such below and are not voting members of the board.