Foundation of EPFC Core Group
Since its inauguration in 2012, EPFC was operated as a thematic group under the auspices of EAS and was supported by the pro bono activities of its five coordinators: Stefan Meyer, Tomas Policar, Stefan Teerlinck, Damien Toner and Daniel Zarski. Although this voluntary contribution has brought EPFC forward to where it is today, we had the feeling EPFC needs to professionalize and go to the next level of cooperation and commitment.
Therefore, we decided to start the EPFC Core Group (EPFC-CG).
What is the goal of EPFC-CG:
- bring commercial and scientific stakeholders in the percid culture together in a closed group, with clearly defined rules of play, tangible added value and mutual respect for the individual position (e.g. IPRs, state of business)
- identify the relevant bottlenecks, that prevent the further growth and success of the sector, translate these bottlenecks into relevant scientific, technical research questions in order to solve these bottlenecks. This list of research questions will be part of the EPFC strategic research and innovation agenda (EPFC-SRIA). The EPFC-SRIA will be a living document, that all EPFC-CG members can refer to and contribute his/her solution(s) and managed by the EPFC-CG manager.
EPFC-CG members can be producers or other companies from the percid supply chain as well as research organizations and universities. Each partner commits himself with an annual fee of 1000 euro for at least 3 years. In return, EPFC-CG helps to clarify what the bottlenecks are that need to be solved in order to reach the EPFC-CG goals. Research institutes or R&D-oriented companies commit themselves to prioritize their own research activities in line with the recommendations of the EPFC-SRIA and to communicate these activities and outcomes in due time with the EPFC-CG. Company members have the ability to steer the research performed by the core group R&D members (research institutions, R&D oriented companies) and get first hand access to research results.
This is an important first step towards joint cooperation among companies in a hitherto unpreceded way. The company members of EPFC-CG are producing under very similar market conditions and are to some extend also competitors. On the other hand, these companies have secured their market share by their unique positioning as RAS producers in Europa. Hence, they all have a common interest to improve the stability and profitability of their production. With this in mind, it all of a sudden makes sense to exchange on for example new approaches to start a selection program, to exchange on certain best practices in production and to exchange on other subjects of strategic importance. The most tangible benefit of a EPFC-CG membership for research & development members is the access to really relevant complementary research topics from the core group, access to the SRIA as backup for fundraising on national level (e.g. EMFF) and support by EPFC-CG in raising money as preferred partner in project consortia.
On February 20th and 21st, the EPFC-CG had its first meeting at the Inagro institute in Rumbeke, Belgium. EPFC-CG members were welcomed by Stefan Teerlinck, Head of research aquaculture and insect production at Inagro, and his team. In total 19 core group members attended the meeting, representing 15 companies and institutions from across Europe. The represented companies are all SMEs, mostly producers of perch and pikeperch but also RAS system suppliers and retailers. During the two-day meeting, participants had time to exchange on the most relevant subjects with relevance to production. All meeting participants were asked to prepare a short homework in preparation of the meeting to think about bottlenecks, things they want to improve, tackle,… in their respective company concerning:
- Broodstock (management, selection, domestication)
- Feeds (broodstock, larvae, grow-out)
- Technic (RAS, grading)
After some first general sessions on exchange and get-to-know, the second day of the meeting was exclusively used to work through this list of homework, and we can proudly confirm that every company and research institution had made his/her homework! Stefan and his team member Edson Panana Villalobos went scrupulously through the list and every representative in the room described their current status, problems and solutions to this. Many information shared during this tour-de-table gave cause to vivid ad hoc discussions by the members. After the meeting, Stefan and his team compiled the outcome of the discussion to a first draft version of the EPFC-SRIA, which will be finalized among members during spring. Members will then allocate their R&D resources according to these recommendations and contribute to the growing pool of knowledge of the EPFC-CG. The EPFC-SRIA is a confidential document that is exclusively accessible to EPFC-CG members.
EPFC will continue to conduct regular workshops during the Aquaculture Europe conference (except in 2019, because of NordicRAS), hand-on training workshops on special subjects (e.g. pikeperch reproduction) and will also continue to work as a network of professionals and enthusiasts (via website, newsletter, LinkedIN). Relevant findings from the research and other work conducted by the EPFC-CG will be shared with the whole EPFC network and broader community whenever adequate and timely. The Core Group is open to new members. If you are interested to join the Core Group, please send an Email to email@example.com