The Seed - Biosecurity Innovation Hub

Welcome to The Seed, our biosecurity innovation hub where you can learn more about exciting developments in the biosecurity space.

This initiative was an outcome of the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018.

Each issue will feature stories about exciting initiatives and profiles of people who are making great strides in innovation.

You can also plant your ideas in our ideas patch and subscribe so you don’t miss out on the latest news.

Welcome to The Seed, our biosecurity innovation hub where you can learn more about exciting developments in the biosecurity space.

This initiative was an outcome of the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018.

Each issue will feature stories about exciting initiatives and profiles of people who are making great strides in innovation.

You can also plant your ideas in our ideas patch and subscribe so you don’t miss out on the latest news.

  • 3D X-ray screening for biosecurity risk

    14 days ago
    Rapiscan unit

    Image: The Rapiscan RTT®110

    Article written by Compliance Division

    Next time you arrive at Melbourne International Terminal, you may notice something different about how your bags are scanned.

    The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is conducting a 12 month trial of a 3D X-ray unit, the Rapiscan RTT®110, to screen passenger, air cargo and mail pathways for biosecurity risk items at Melbourne Airport.

    Jessica Mitchell, project director, explained that the RTT®110 unit produces three dimensional scans of bags which will allow a more thorough view of items. This will help biosecurity officers detect...

    Image: The Rapiscan RTT®110

    Article written by Compliance Division

    Next time you arrive at Melbourne International Terminal, you may notice something different about how your bags are scanned.

    The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is conducting a 12 month trial of a 3D X-ray unit, the Rapiscan RTT®110, to screen passenger, air cargo and mail pathways for biosecurity risk items at Melbourne Airport.

    Jessica Mitchell, project director, explained that the RTT®110 unit produces three dimensional scans of bags which will allow a more thorough view of items. This will help biosecurity officers detect undeclared or concealed biosecurity risk items.

    ‘This is the first time, internationally, that this technology has been used for screening biosecurity risk items. Currently the RTT®110 is primarily used for airport security screening.’

    ’The unit also has the capability to use algorithms to auto-detect risk items,’ Jessica said.

    New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries is planning a similar 12 month trial of an identical Rapiscan RTT®110 unit at Auckland Airport. The department will be working closely with Biosecurity New Zealand throughout this trial.

    ‘The X-ray images from Melbourne and Auckland will be combined to create an image library that is used to create the algorithm. This approach is a world first collaboration for biosecurity,’ Jessica said.

    ‘Biosecurity NZ and the department have recently signed the Trans-Tasman Biosecurity Risk Detection Technology Cooperation. The agreement is a commitment to work closely together to explore emerging technologies.’

    This trial is funded by the Modern Seamless Border Clearance measure announced in the 2018-19 Budget.

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  • Biosecurity – Towards 2025 and Beyond

    3 months ago
    Image cale lee

    Image: Lee Cale

    Article contributed by Lee Cale, Assistant Secretary Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Australia has a strong biosecurity system that protects our agricultural industries, environment and economy from the threat of exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

    However, our biosecurity system is facing increasing challenges.

    The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Transport Security Outlook to 2025 report tells us that the number of passengers, shipping and containerised cargo arrivals is set to significantly increase (double) by 2025.

    Other factors such as globalisation, complexity of international supply chains and...

    Image: Lee Cale

    Article contributed by Lee Cale, Assistant Secretary Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Australia has a strong biosecurity system that protects our agricultural industries, environment and economy from the threat of exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

    However, our biosecurity system is facing increasing challenges.

    The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Transport Security Outlook to 2025 report tells us that the number of passengers, shipping and containerised cargo arrivals is set to significantly increase (double) by 2025.

    Other factors such as globalisation, complexity of international supply chains and other changes to our operating environment are making our management of biosecurity risks more challenging.

    Change to the way we undertake our work is therefore needed if our biosecurity system is to keep pace and remain sustainable into the future. It is more important than ever that we innovate our management of biosecurity risk – incorporating innovative technologies and approaches to help us work smarter, not just harder.

    And much work is already underway as part of our innovation agenda that will help address these challenges.

    The stories in The Seed showcase some of the initiatives being pursued as part of our biosecurity innovation agenda, to support our biosecurity system to work smarter into the future. These are being progressed across our biosecurity divisions, and in some cases with our colleagues in the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. The Seed is a place to share ideas and grow our biosecurity innovation community – and it underscores that collaboration is key to our future success.

    So, please read, enjoy, comment and contribute your ideas for future editions.

    Cheers,

    Lee

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  • Cross pollinating ideas between Australia and New Zealand

    3 months ago
    Image cross pollinating ideas between australia and new zealand

    Image: L-R: Kyle Langford, Roger Smith, Lee Cale, Sam Newton, Lyn O’Connell, Matt Koval, Chris Cairns after the keynote sessions at the Biosecurity Innovation Exchange.

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    It was innovative thinking that united neighbouring nations at the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018. Jointly convened with the New Zealand and Australian Governments, the day brought together two biosecurity innovation ecosystems. The two countries started the process of cross pollinating ideas to meet the evolving global biosecurity environment.

    The first of its kind, the Exchange focused on innovative technology from the outset with the keynote...

    Image: L-R: Kyle Langford, Roger Smith, Lee Cale, Sam Newton, Lyn O’Connell, Matt Koval, Chris Cairns after the keynote sessions at the Biosecurity Innovation Exchange.

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    It was innovative thinking that united neighbouring nations at the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018. Jointly convened with the New Zealand and Australian Governments, the day brought together two biosecurity innovation ecosystems. The two countries started the process of cross pollinating ideas to meet the evolving global biosecurity environment.

    The first of its kind, the Exchange focused on innovative technology from the outset with the keynote sessions livestreamed to the department’s YouTube channel. Staying on theme, special guests Kyle Langford and Sam Newton from the Oracle Team USA America’s Cup Sailing team provided an inspiring example of innovation, setting the tone for the day.

    ‘Through innovation, science and research we can continue to be world leaders in biosecurity – and the best way for us to harness these opportunities is to collaborate with other countries who share our innovative biosecurity vision,’Lyn O’Connell, Deputy Secretary, said in her opening remarks.

    Australia and New Zealand are both island nations. This means our environment and challenges are similar. It makes sense to share knowledge and support each other to identify opportunities, leading the future of biosecurity. With technology advancing more in the last thirty years than it did in the previous two thousand, the topics discussed were truly thought provoking.

    The Exchange established key themes for immediate investigation:

    • gamification and citizen science

    • Next Generation Sequencing

    • bionic technologies and sensors.

    We’ve since held cross divisional workshops, along with our biosecurity colleagues from state and territory governments and New Zealand, on initiatives under gamification, citizen science and Next Generation Sequencing, and plan to facilitate further workshops later this calendar year. These initiatives are just some of the ways we are driving an innovation agenda to support the biosecurity system to work smarter into the future.

    It is anticipated that New Zealand will host the next Exchange in 2019 where we will continue to explore innovative technologies and approaches to support biosecurity.

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  • Levelling up – gamification approach to improve biosecurity engagement

    3 months ago

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Mario Kart captured the hearts and minds of a generation. Candy Crush was an addiction, and Pokémon GO caused several frenzied stampedes. People love games. So how can we use them to improve engagement with biosecurity?

    At the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018, the Australian and New Zealand governments committed to holding a series of innovation workshops to define and progress initiatives based on four key themes, including gamification and citizen science.

    Gamification harnesses the power of games to increase user engagement with...

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Mario Kart captured the hearts and minds of a generation. Candy Crush was an addiction, and Pokémon GO caused several frenzied stampedes. People love games. So how can we use them to improve engagement with biosecurity?

    At the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018, the Australian and New Zealand governments committed to holding a series of innovation workshops to define and progress initiatives based on four key themes, including gamification and citizen science.

    Gamification harnesses the power of games to increase user engagement with real world topics, such as biosecurity. As well as engaging an audience, gamification can be used to encourage the community to collect useful biosecurity data and information at the same time – this is called citizen science.

    In May and June 2018, the department held two workshops focussed on gamification and citizen science. The workshops explored the use of games to:

    • increase public awareness and engagement with biosecurity and encourage identification and reporting of biosecurity threats

    • support staff learning about the biosecurity system and the various roles and responsibilities.

    We’ll keep you updated as these gamification and citizen science initiatives progress.

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  • Innovation profile: improving plant biosecurity service delivery

    3 months ago
    Image innovation profile   an innovative approach to improve plant biosecurity...

    Image: Mark Whattam, Director of PIC@PEQ alongside Lyn O’Connell, Deputy Secretary formally launching the centre in November 2017.

    Article written by Mark Whattam

    We know that delivering efficient and effective services in a rapidly changing world requires the department to be innovative. Enter PIC@PEQ, a great example of innovative service delivery happening here and now.

    PIC@PEQ is a cool concept – it stands for the Plant Innovation Centre at the national Post Entry Quarantine facility. The department formally launched PIC@PEQ in November 2017, to conduct innovative and applied plant biosecurity focused research...

    Image: Mark Whattam, Director of PIC@PEQ alongside Lyn O’Connell, Deputy Secretary formally launching the centre in November 2017.

    Article written by Mark Whattam

    We know that delivering efficient and effective services in a rapidly changing world requires the department to be innovative. Enter PIC@PEQ, a great example of innovative service delivery happening here and now.

    PIC@PEQ is a cool concept – it stands for the Plant Innovation Centre at the national Post Entry Quarantine facility. The department formally launched PIC@PEQ in November 2017, to conduct innovative and applied plant biosecurity focused research and development projects to support core business.

    ‘PIC@PEQ has made substantial progress since becoming operational including recruiting a PIC@PEQ team, preparing guidelines to enable university students to engage with PIC@PEQ initiatives and investigating an initial list of PIC@PEQ projects,’ Mark Whattam, PIC@PEQ Director, said.

    ‘A three year forward work plan is currently being developed.’

    Many projects are already being progressed, including:

    • investigating mobile apps to automatically identify plant pests and diseases using images, for use by inspectors

    • improving verification of cut-flower treatments by using faster and more effective ways to detect presence of glyphosate chemicals

    • progressing a single test to detect all viruses in imported plants in Post Entry Quarantine using Next Generation Sequencing

    • conducting hot water trials to determine the tolerance of seed and plants to treatments that manage plant biosecurity pests.

    We’ll keep you updated on this exciting initiative.

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  • Next Generation Sequencing on the agenda at innovation workshop

    3 months ago
    Image next generation sequencing on the agenda at innovation workshop

    Image: Tests being carried out in the PIC@PEQ lab

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Imagine if years of virus testing on imported plants could be reduced to just one rapid test. This could soon be a reality, thanks to an innovative Plant Innovation Centre at Post Entry Quarantine (PIC@PEQ) project. The project is examining the potential of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to detect plant viruses.

    At the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018, the Australian and New Zealand governments committed to holding a series of innovation workshops to define...

    Image: Tests being carried out in the PIC@PEQ lab

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Imagine if years of virus testing on imported plants could be reduced to just one rapid test. This could soon be a reality, thanks to an innovative Plant Innovation Centre at Post Entry Quarantine (PIC@PEQ) project. The project is examining the potential of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to detect plant viruses.

    At the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018, the Australian and New Zealand governments committed to holding a series of innovation workshops to define and progress initiatives based on four key themes, including NGS.

    NGS uses genetic material to quickly screen a plant sample for viruses. It offers the potential to use a single diagnostic test to quickly, reliably and cost effectively detect multiple plant viruses, rather than using multiple tests. This technology could help importers access new plants faster and more cheaply, while maintaining rigorous biosecurity risk controls.

    On 5 July 2018, PIC@PEQ Director Mark Whattam led a workshop in Canberra to progress the NGS initiative. At the workshop, department experts explored NGS, what the innovation offers the department and clients from both a plant and animal biosecurity perspective, and discussed a way forward and the potential to adopt the technology. Next, a ‘roadmap’ will be developed showing how issues raised in the workshop will be addressed, and the research investment that may be needed to continue the project. The hope is to phase NGS testing in to Post Entry Quarantine processes over time, while research to further develop NGS continues.

    We’ll keep you updated as work to develop NGS technology progresses.

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  • Innovation Profile - Dr Desi Ramoo (New Zealand)

    3 months ago
    Innovation profile   dr desi ramoo %28new zealand%29   border

    Image: Dr Desi Ramoo, Research Technology and Innovation Practice Lead, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand

    Article written by Dr Desi Ramoo

    It was through visiting science museums on a year-long motorcycle tour of North America in 1992 that Desi caught the science bug. He embarked on an adventure in theoretical physics, completing a PhD funded by British Telecommunications UK and continuing his research in the area of highly efficient microcavity semiconductors lasers.

    Desi immigrated to New Zealand with his wife and two sons from the UK in 2008 to work for...

    Image: Dr Desi Ramoo, Research Technology and Innovation Practice Lead, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand

    Article written by Dr Desi Ramoo

    It was through visiting science museums on a year-long motorcycle tour of North America in 1992 that Desi caught the science bug. He embarked on an adventure in theoretical physics, completing a PhD funded by British Telecommunications UK and continuing his research in the area of highly efficient microcavity semiconductors lasers.

    Desi immigrated to New Zealand with his wife and two sons from the UK in 2008 to work for the Building Research Association of New Zealand. He joined the organisation as a computational fluid dynamics physicist. He later worked with the MacDiarmid Institute as its Innovation Agent developing nationwide networks and connecting New Zealand’s researchers with commercialisation opportunities.

    Desi has an incredibly diverse range of experience, having completed several research roles in the UK and New Zealand. He has mentored PhD students in commercialisation and has set up and run businesses. Recruited by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in 2016, Desi designed, set up and now leads the Research Technology and Innovation (RTI) Practice.

    RTI is an alternative way of working at MPI, which identifies ideas, 76 to date, with the potential to solve biosecurity problems. Desi presents MPI’s Senior Leaders with innovative ideas every six weeks, giving them the chance to sponsor those which strategically align and would add value if successful.

    Desi connects with researchers, start-up companies and industry from a wide range of disciplines on initiatives to solve pressing biosecurity issues. This increases the number of participants investigating real-world biosecurity challenges, and links MPI with partners to help improve our management of the biosecurity system.

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  • Investing in the future of Australia’s biosecurity system

    3 months ago
    Image investing in the future of australia%e2%80%99s biosecurity system v0.2

    Image: Biosecurity innovation – aerial drone and a scientist in a lab

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    The Australian Government is investing in new cutting edge technologies and approaches to enhance Australia’s Biosecurity System, protecting Australia into the future. Through a new $25.2 million Biosecurity Innovation Program the department’s innovation teams will investigate the benefits of emerging technologies to meet the challenges of an ever changing global environment.

    ‘This investment is part of the Australian Government’s comprehensive plan to keep Australia's industries and environment safe from invading biosecurity...

    Image: Biosecurity innovation – aerial drone and a scientist in a lab

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    The Australian Government is investing in new cutting edge technologies and approaches to enhance Australia’s Biosecurity System, protecting Australia into the future. Through a new $25.2 million Biosecurity Innovation Program the department’s innovation teams will investigate the benefits of emerging technologies to meet the challenges of an ever changing global environment.

    ‘This investment is part of the Australian Government’s comprehensive plan to keep Australia's industries and environment safe from invading biosecurity threats,’ Minister Littleproud said.

    The Program aims to benefit the agriculture sector, the environment, tourism, the Australian economy and way of life by helping to ensure Australia remains free from exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

    With the number of passengers, shipping and containerised cargo arrivals set to significantly increase (double) by 2025, investment in innovation and emerging technologies and approaches is required to help ensure the national biosecurity system can meet the challenges of an ever changing global environment.

    The 2017 report Priorities for Australia’s biosecurity system: An independent review of the capacity of the national biosecurity system and its underpinning intergovernmental agreement recommended the establishment of a National Biosecurity Innovation Program and the exploration of emerging technologies and approaches. These technologies could include such things as computer learning, robotics, Next Generation Sequencing, new biological controls and alternative management approaches to border interventions, to improve efficiency and effectiveness of biosecurity activities. The department will administer the program with aim to secure the future of Australia’s Biosecurity System.

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