Aquaculture and Feed Innovation Hub (AquaFI Hub)

A state-of-the-art aquaculture research innovation centre

The Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF) is one of the most important investments in higher education infrastructure in a generation and Deakin’s program under the VHESIF is managed by the Office of the DVCR with close engagement with other parts of the UniversityA core project within the AquaFutures theme in Deakin’s VHESIF program is the AquaFI – Aquaculture and Feed Innovation Hub, Deakin’s response to supporting aquaculture’s growth globally as the fastest growing food production sector. The AquaFI Hub will be a state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture research and innovation centre at Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus to enhance Victoria and Australia’s capabilities in this rapidly growing field. The AquaFI Hub will be Australia’s most advanced experimental feed extrusion plant for advanced feed manufacture and innovation.

Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, announced plans to construct a $9.8 million state-of-the-art aquaculture research centre for sustainable fish production, novel feed and aquaculture technology development and industry training. Associate Professor David Francis from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences will lead research on improving the sustainability of the aquaculture industry with a strong focus on aquafeeds and finding novel ingredients to replace traditional marine ingredients like fishmeal and fish oil.

The AquaFI Hub will focus on aquaculture growth through targeted R&D and collaboration with both existing and emerging Victorian and Australian aquaculture producers. In addition to the next-generation recirculating aquaculture technology and advanced feed extrusion infrastructure, the Hub will apply intelligent systems and sensing platforms coupled with machine learning and related technologies to greatly accelerate research and development, identify rapid solutions to nutrient requirement challenges and improve optimisation of farm production.

Our key focus is to improve the way we feed our farmed fish, and to make it more nutritious and sustainable. Aquaculture covers a range of disciplines, like biology, chemistry, engineering and economics. We want to bring in the entire aquaculture industry and solve these problems together. Assoc. Prof Francis said in a news release.

AquaFI Highlights:

  • Based at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, the AquaFI Hub will be a state-of-the-art aquaculture research innovation centre that will position Victoria as a leader in aquaculture research and training, identifying break-through mechanisms to enhance industry growth and create jobs in Victoria and across Australia.
  • The AquaFI Hub will focus on sustainable fish production, novel feed and aquaculture technology development, and industry training. The work will expand into advanced feed extrusion technology and the development of sustainable ingredients and raw materials for next-generation circular bio-economy approaches for the seafood sector.
  • The AquaFI Hub will be self-sustaining, building on Deakin’s strong track record of success in aquaculture and in taking innovation to impact. The business model includes engaging industry partners in Research and development, commercial services and commercialisation of research outcomes, and a pipeline of commercial entities and pathways to activate IP.

From years three to ten, a sustainable income model will be derived from seven service offerings:

  1. Aquaculture R&D – Advanced R&D for industry to develop new products, test technologies, investigate climate mitigation strategies and improve product quality.
  2. Raw material development – Novel processing technologies converting high volume, low value materials into high value materials and bioactives.
  3. Bespoke feeds – Commercialisation of feeds for the hobbyist industry and research community.
  4. Feed manufacturing services – Customised manufacturing of feeds charged at fee-for-service rate.
  5. Feed extrusion courses – Intensive training focusing on extruder operation and maintenance.
  6. Expert services – Consulting services to commercial feed companies, raw material producers and farmers.
  7. Co-Innovation Research and Training Spaces – Multifunctional spaces to enable co-innovation with industry stakeholders and collaborators.