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$2 million to develop biosecurity screening project

Media Release 24 March 2020

A challenge set by the department to tackle pests and diseases on incoming cargo containers has led to two companies each being awarded $1 million under the Australian Government’s Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) to develop a proof of concept.

Head of biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Lyn O’Connell, said the department’s challenge was to find innovative and cost-effective solutions to improve the effectiveness of detecting and managing hitchhiker pests and other contaminants on, or in, shipping containers.

“The proof of concept stage will involve the two companies undertaking activities to produce a working prototype or demonstration of their proposed solution.” Ms O’Connell said.

“One company will base their solution on unmanned flight and detection technology, while the other proposes to integrate an array of sensors into the gantry cranes unloading sea containers from vessels

“The final products will have the potential to help protect Australia’s unique native flora and fauna from pests, diseases and contaminants that can arrive on sea containers.

“Incoming shipping or sea containers, whether carrying cargo or arriving empty, can provide a pathway for hitchhiking pests, organisms, diseases, weeds and contaminants to enter Australia and create a biosecurity risk.

“Both solutions are expected to address the current risks and are designed to fit within existing ship to shore processes for container movement, to keep cost to the minimum.

“I congratulate Industry Spec Drones Pty Ltd and Trellis Data Pty Ltd on their amazing work and look forward to the exciting opportunities the next stage will bring. “

BRII gives opportunities to innovative small to medium enterprises with ideas to tackle national challenges, including protecting Australia from biosecurity threats and driving growth in our tourism industry.

A list of grant recipients can be found at