TWO companies have been awarded $1m each under the Australian government’s Business Research and Innovation Initiative to develop solutions to detecting and managing hitchhiker pests in or on shipping containers.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources head of biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said the department’s challenge was to find innovative and cost-effective solutions.

“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 has based its solution on unmanned flight and detection technology, while the other proposes to integrate an array of sensors into gantry cranes unloading sea containers from ships.

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“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,” Ms O’Connell said.

“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.

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