The AquaExcel2020 website is now live. Visit now

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AQUAEXCEL2020 - An Introduction


Full title: AQUAculture infrastructures for EXCELlence in European fish research towards 2020

Programme: H2020, INFRAIA-1-2014-2015: Integrating and opening existing national and regional research infrastructures in aquaculture

Instrument: Research and innovation actions

Duration: October 2015 – September 2020 (5 years)

Coordinator: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), FRANCE

Consortium: 22 partners from 12 countries


AQUAEXCEL2020 is a research infrastructure project funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme and coordinated by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). The project, which has started in October 2015, aims to further support the sustainable growth of the European aquaculture sector. AQUAEXCEL2020 will integrate a large group of leading European aquaculture research facilities and aims to advance aquaculture research and innovation in Europe. One of its key aspects will be to provide subsidised access to top-class aquaculture facilities, as well as numerous highly pertinent services for researchers from academia and industry.

Aquaculture provides about half of the fish for human consumption worldwide. The demand for fish is rising, but fisheries are not expected to grow due to fully or over-exploited fish stocks. Aquaculture production seeks to meet this increasing demand for fish, but while the aquaculture sector is growing in the rest of the world, it has stagnated in Europe in recent years. Sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector in Europe, based on efficient and environmentally responsible production of high value fish products, can be achieved by ensuring excellent scientific research and by the results being translated into innovation and industrial growth.

AQUAEXCEL2020 will help to achieve this target by integrating 39 top class European aquaculture research facilities that cover all relevant scientific fields, fish species and systems. The project will provide a single access portal to high-quality, harmonised services and resources tailored to the needs of the European aquaculture community, support and conduct world-class research and provide the basis for a European aquaculture innovation system from basic research to applied science.

Nearly half of the project’s €9.7 million budget will go into the provision of transnational access to research facilities and harmonised services for both academic and private sector users from industry, especially SMEs. Academic and industry researchers will then be able to perform their research projects with “free of charge” access to top EU aquaculture research infrastructures which are not available in their country of origin. The first call for transnational access will be announced in 2016 on this website.

AQUAEXCEL2020 will also provide training for transnational access users, aquaculture researchers, technical staff and industry stakeholders. A series of face-to-face and distance learning courses on aquaculture technology and fish biology will be offered over the five year duration of the project.

AQUAEXCEL2020 will develop standardised guides and new tools for aquaculture research including a dedicated e-infrastructure which will support both actual and virtual research experiments. More than 10 new fish species (including Bluefin tuna, sole, and perch) will be made available for aquaculture research purposes.

The AQUAEXCEL2020 coordinator, Dr Marc Vandeputte, is a researcher in fish genetics and coordinates aquaculture research at INRA. He explains: “We have gained much experience in the successful forerunner-project AQUAEXCEL, which was funded by the EU from 2011 to early 2015. The new project, AQUAEXCEL2020 will build on the outcomes of AQUAEXCEL, such as new modelling and phenotyping tools, standardised experimental fish lines and remote access solutions – and already successful transnational access. It aims to bring aquaculture research in Europe to a new level by 2020. It will do so by providing the aquaculture community with crucial tools, facilities and novel services to conduct advanced fish research.”


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 The AQUAEXCEL2020 consortium at the kick-off meeting in Montpellier, November 2015


AQUAEXCEL2020 officially began on 1 October 2015 and will run until September 2020. From 2-4 November 2015, the project held its kick-off meeting in Montpellier, France. The project’s partners convened to refine the project’s plans and start with the practical work of this promising collaboration.


Consortium members:

1.  Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA)
2.  Havforskningsinstituttet (IMR)
3.  The University of Stirling (UoS)
4.  Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
5.  Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR)
6.  Nemzeti Agrárkutatási és Innovációs Központ, Halászati Kutatóintézet (NAIK HAKI)
7.  Institut Francais de Recherche pour L’Exploitation de la Mer (Ifremer)
9.  Jihočeská univerzita v Českých Budějovicích (JU)
10.  Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet NTNU (NTNU)
11.  SINTEF Fiskeri og havbruk AS (SINTEF)
12.  Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC)
13.  Wageningen University (WU)
14.  Ghent University (UGhent)
15.  Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (DLO-WLR)
16.  AquaTT UETP Ltd (AquaTT)
17.  INRA Transfert S.A. (IT)
18.  Université de Lorraine (UL)
19.  Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)
20.  Centro de Ciências do Mar do Algarve (CCMAR)
21.  Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO)
22.  European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform (EATiP)


The project coordinator and scientific contact of AQUAEXCEL2020 is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Research Unit Animal Genetics and Integrative Biology, Scientific Division Animal Genetics, INRA Center Jouy-en-Josas, France.

For more information about the project and press queries, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the project dissemination partner AquaTT.


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