R&D Tax Relief in Aquaculture

Aquaculture is becoming increasingly important for global food production, especially as wild fish stocks become depleted and the availability of new land for arable farming is becoming increasingly restricted.


07 June 2021

Hand Holding Fish Food Over Water

Introduced by the UK Government in 2000, the R&D tax relief scheme is designed to encourage innovation and global competitiveness by allowing companies to reclaim some of the money invested in qualifying research and development. R&D tax credits are generally considered to be one of the most attractive tax reliefs available, often resulting in significant cash repayments from HMRC.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of the programme include increased cashflow, which is especially important to small, developing companies. It also encourages development of a corporate philosophy that embraces innovation and improvement.

Do you qualify?

A common misconception is that the scheme is just for companies with R&D departments and men in white coats. The fact is that any company that spends money trying to improve a product or service through a technological advance, using qualified staff and appropriate project control, and where there's doubt about the project's success, is likely to be eligible.

R&D in Aquaculture

The pace of innovation in this industry is impressive. Aquaculture is becoming increasingly important for global food production, especially as wild fish stocks become depleted and the availability of new land for arable farming is becoming increasingly restricted. In order to ensure sustainable protein production, modern technology helps to improve energy efficiency, plant availability, product quality, and overall productivity.

The aquaculture industry has increased its degree of control through the production process via many innovations in fish feed, feeding equipment, information technology-based monitoring of live fish, vaccines and genetics, and through the development of land-based recirculating aquaculture technology.

Many of the tasks that before were manual, such as fish monitoring, fish feeding, fish harvesting and equipment maintenance, have now been automated to a large extent and reliability of production processes and environmental sustainability has been enhanced.

R&D has also played a significant role in disease management. A number of targeted vaccines have been developed to combat various diseased. To some extent, these have replaced curative medications such as antibiotics.

What are the potential areas of eligibility?

A vast range of activity in the area of aquaculture, which could include:

  • Developing improving diet or nutrition for feedstock.
  • Developing improved breeding programmes to enhance favourable traits in species.
  • Integration and modification of existing technology to create an improved production process.
  • Developing better protocol to detect or reduce disease in farmstock.

What problems might a company face?

  • Changing diet may have an unknown impact of the health and development of the feedstock.
  • Selective breeding or genetic modification may have an unknown impact of physiology and survive rate of the feedstock.
  • Existing technology may not have been proven in certain applications.
  • Knowledge within the industry of how to detect or treat a specific disease may be limited.

Eligibility questionnaire

If you can answer 'Yes' to most of these questions then, based on our experience across thousands of clients, it looks like you could have a successful claim:

  • Have you developed new processes applying technology that has not been proven in this area?
  • Have you tried to improve your existing products through technical changes?
  • Have you had to resolve technical problems with any of your products, processes, or equipment?
  • Have you found more sustainable ways to undertake production, extending publicly available knowledge within your industry?
  • Have you experimented with new equipment or production techniques?
  • At the start of a project, did you ever think 'I'm not sure of the best way to do this'?
  • Have any of your projects failed for technical reasons?


ABGI is a leading international tax incentive and innovation management advisor. We help companies accelerate their innovation activity by identifying and securing appropriate funding in the form of grants, tax incentives or commercial funding.

With 30+ years heritage and 200 experts, we manage +£870million of innovation incentives annually across 19 countries, for some of the world's best known brands.

Whatever innovation funding challenges you face - wherever you're based - we can help.

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