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HIE Grant Funding for Balpha Mast development

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A Shetland company is being supported by Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) through a £6,501 research and development grant to secure international property rights and towards development costs to a new collapsible sailing mast system for small commercial fishing and leisure craft.

Sail Line Fish Ltd led by Stuart Balfour is developing the `Balpha Mast’ system and has plans to develop a fully fledged commercial fishing operation using innovative sail systems and a sustainable fishing business model.

Stuart Balfour form Sail Line Fish Ltd , said: “I am very pleased to receive this HIE grant funding towards the total £20,000 project costs. The project aims to take the Balpha Mast from a proof of concept through to an investable proposition. The critical innovation lies within advancing the design of the collapsible mast system to sail a 15m purpose built fishing vessel. This design work is progressing well, with involvement from Naval Architects Dick Koopmans, Netherlands and Eric Sponberg, USA. This International collaboration also includes local Engineer Alan Jamieson and Ocean Kinetics Ltd. The market interest in the Balpha Mast is also very encouraging with contacts made through from Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritius, Dubia, Nova Scotia and also from fishermen and sailors nearer to home”.

David Priest, Development Manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “This is an ambitious and far sighted project which will bring forward a low carbon alternative to commercial fishing and hopefully lead to a significant business opportunity.”