Nine Australian SMEs have been given more than $800,000 in initial grant funds under the federal government’s Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) to develop solutions to pressing water and biosecurity challenges.
The grant recipients will test the feasibility of their ideas over the three months to June 2017. Recipients with ideas that prove fruitful in the testing phase may then apply for further grant funds of up to $1 million to develop prototypes or proofs of concept.
The BRII, an initiative of the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, includes two challenges in the agriculture and water resources portfolio:
- to provide a technical solution to improve the transparency and reliability of information about Australia’s water market;
- to develop “on-the-spot” technology to help prevent “hitchhiking pests of biosecurity concern” from entering Australia on aircraft.
A user-friendly water-market portal
“Australia is a world leader in the development of water markets – but as these markets grow, new sources of water information and types of water products are being developed,” said Assistant Secretary of the Department’s Water Acquisition and Markets Branch, Mary Colreavy.
“This means it can be challenging for water users to find reliable, up-to-date information about the changing market so they can be confident in making informed trading decisions.
“We want to make it easier for irrigators and others to find all the information they need in one place – and the BRII program is helping us to partner with four innovative businesses that have the potential to develop that technology.”
An on-the-spot tool to assess aircraft disinsectation
Head of the Department’s Compliance Division, Raelene Vivian, said the BRII funding granted to SMEs offered opportunities to find faster, more effective ways to manage aircraft ‘disinsection’, the procedure that stops exotic, potentially harmful insect pests hitching rides on planes to Australia.
“To protect human health, our agricultural industries, environment and economy, all aircraft entering Australia must be treated prior to arrival in the country to keep out hitchhiking pests like disease-carrying mosquitoes,” Vivian said.
“Currently this process involves time-consuming and costly tests to ensure that insecticide residues in aircraft are both safe and sufficient to eliminate mosquitoes and other insects.
“We are hoping for a solution that provides on-the-spot technology to deliver a quick, accurate and cost-effective way for our biosecurity officers to assess aircraft disinsection activities,” she said.
“An effective solution will have important benefits for the strength of our national biosecurity systems and the health of all Australians.”
For further information about BRII and the initial grant recipients, visit the BRII site.