Posted | Friday 22nd July, 2011
The new Astec Aquaculture Business & Science Centre in Northumberland, provides the ideal base for aquaculture businesses of all sizes and at varying stages of development, with its unique combination of 'plug in and go' facilities and specialist business support services.
Astec offer tailored packages of support and technical advice to anyone looking to take their first steps towards commercialising a business idea, as well as to more established aquaculture businesses looking to diversify or relocate. As well as providing a nurturing and supportive environment, the purpose-built Centre has one very distinct offering that will appeal to marine scientists and industry alike – a continuous supply of near tropical temperature, flow-through seawater. This enables a wide range of marine plants and animals to be cultivated there, and breeding to continue all year round. This existing infrastructure means tenants can effectively ‘plug in and go’, and eliminates the expense and difficulty involved in transporting seawater.
Astec's chief executive, Kevin Haddrick says; "We have a special focus on helping fledgling businesses and spin-out companies who are looking to take the next step towards becoming a commercial operation. We recognise that many people starting out need some help outside their sphere of scientific expertise, so our on-site team can offer advice in areas like marketing, finance, networking and business management, helping people focus on setting up and running their own businesses. Our technical advisory group will also provide guidance on more industry related issues, and act as a valuable knowledge pool for our tenants."
More established businesses looking to diversify or expand are also welcome says Mr Haddrick: "We are already looking at the potential to extend the outdoor production space we have onto adjacent land to support more large scale business operations."
The Centre has already attracted a significant amount of interest from the marine sciences community. Professor Grant Burgess commented: "As the UK's first aquaculture incubator, Astec will draw aquaculture companies to the region to take advantage of the fantastic facilities, year round warm seawater and nearby expertise and advice."
Astec offers private wet laboratories, offices and over 5300 sq. metres of outdoor production space and test beds, for both research and commercial ventures. Additional benefits include on-site business mentoring, and support from a technical advisory group made up of industry peers. As a private sector SME, any company partnering with Astec could find themselves at an advantage when applying for funding due to the Centre's existing networks and links with the wider scientific community.
All of the space offered at Astec is completely flexible and scalable, enabling businesses room to grow. Each of the laboratories is fitted with specialist equipment and individually metered to help control costs. Individual heating, extraction and light control means that laboratory conditions can be customised and 24/7 secure access means tenants can operate at times to suit them.