Objective RegWorks supports AI innovation designed to detect biosecurity hazards

Objective worked with AI specialists Intelligent System Design (ISD) to support the development of an innovative solution to tackle pests and diseases on incoming cargo containers.

Biosecurity inspections are a key measure to prevent hitchhiking pests and contaminants entering Australia via imported goods and conveyances. Managed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), the current approach using risk-based manual inspections is costly, time-consuming, and captures only a fraction of imports. With millions of shipping containers arriving per year and imports on the rise, the Department needed to find a way to improve the detection of these hazards. 

DAWE decided to take part in the Australian government’s second Business Research and Innovation Initiative BRII challenge (BRII2), a program designed to support small and medium sized businesses to develop innovative solutions that address government challenges. The challenge set by the Department 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.

Innovation led by AI and supported by RegTech

Illawarra-based AI company Intelligent System Design (ISD) entered the challenge with a proposal to take AI-based hyperspectral imaging technology, typically used in a laboratory setting, and apply it to the real world. Proposing a remote sensing solution across fixed, aerial, and handheld devices, the solution identifies materials based on patterns in light reflectance using hyperspectral imaging systems.

The solution would allow the department to identify pests not visible to the naked eye and reduce the expenditure and resources associated with manual inspections.

While ISD could develop the AI driven technology and hardware, they needed to find a supplier to develop the cloud-based database management system for the storage, traceability, and workflow management of contaminated containers. They discovered the ideal business partner located just metres away from their then-office at the UOW Innovation Campus.

Objective RegWorks aligned well with what we were doing,” said Julian van den Berg, CEO of ISD. “We also knew that the team were winners of the previous round of the BRII grant, so it was a really good fit.”

Combining different technologies to make an impact

Following an initial feasibility study, ISD were awarded a $1 million grant by the Business Research Innovation Initiative. ISD then worked to develop and test a proof of concept prototype based on their unique artificial intelligence and hyperspectral systems. They are now in discussions with DAWE to further commercialise and roll out the technology.

“We enjoyed collaborating with an innovative AI specialist and contributing to a solution designed to minimise biosecurity hazards,” said Ben Hobby, Global VP, RegTech Solutions at Objective. “We can see the potential of combining different technologies to help deliver innovative, impactful government services, and we hope to do more of these collaborations in future."

We can see the potential of combining different technologies to help deliver innovative, impactful government services, and we hope to do more of these collaborations in future.

Ben Hobby

Global VP, RegTech Solutions at Objective