Media release

New start-up sets sights on fruit fly 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews​
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud​

18 October 2018

The Coalition Government is helping Australian farmers through a new tech start-up taking aim at Australia’s biggest biosecurity barrier to trade: the fruit fly.

The trial of RapidAIM, which is a real-time monitoring system using technology to detect the presence and location of fruit flies, will potentially cut down the need for time-consuming manual monitoring.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said RapidAIM features new technology developed by CSIRO researchers and is backed by the Coalition Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

“Fruit flies cost Australia’s horticulture sector around $300 million a year and can have a major impact on our fruit and vegetable growers,” Minister Andrews said.

“RapidAIM’s innovations have the potential to transform the way we track and predict fruit fly movements, so our growers have the tools in future growing seasons to protect their crops more effectively.

“The Coalition is investing approximately $2.4 billion in growing Australia’s research, science and technology capabilities, as announced in this year’s Budget, and this type of technology can help our farmers.

“The successful launch of this new company demonstrates the true benefits of investing in Australia’s world-leading research and innovation, supporting small businesses to solve real Australian problems.”

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Coalition Government also committed $1.35 million to fund the trial of the automated smart traps as part of the RapidAIM system.

“The trial will compare the automated traps to the currently used manual traps in locations in SA, WA, NSW, Vic and Tasmania,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The smart traps use lures to attract fruit flies. Females are lured in by food and males by chemicals they think will make them more attractive to female flies.

“Sensors will be able to detect when a fruit fly is in the trap by their characteristic movements and send an alert to a grower’s mobile phone.

“This innovative technology could provide farmers access to real-time data about the presence of fruit fly on their farms and across their regions so they can respond to an outbreak quicker.”

Developed by Dr Nancy Schellhorn, Mr Darren Moore and Ms Laura Jones during their time at CSIRO, the technology was successfully trialled by some of Australia’s biggest fruit producers in Victoria last year.

The researchers have now founded the company to help take their invention to growers around Australia in future fruit growing seasons.

Fast facts:
  • RapidAIM is receiving a $1.25 million investment from Main Sequence Ventures, through the Coalition Government’s CSIRO Innovation Fund, and has also received support from CSIRO’s ON program, with both programs part of NISA.
  • The Coalition Government is supporting Australian farmers by growing our research, science and technology sector, and by pursuing an ambitious trade agenda to open more export markets for Australian products and services.
  • The Coalition has provided $1.1 billion funding for the National Innovation and Science Agenda – of which the CSIRO Innovation Fund is a key element.