Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth and has recently faced one of its worst droughts. Climate change and increased incidence of extreme weather events are threatening water security for all Australians.
Currently, approximately 70% of Australia’s water resources are used for Agriculture, and water resources are becoming increasingly stretched. Biotechnological innovations are needed now to ensure Australia’s water security and agricultural productivity into the future.
The recent H2O Hackathon event hosted by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology at The Australian National University (ANU), in partnership with The University of Canberra’s Centre for Applied Water Science (CAWS), Bridge Hub, CSIRO and Charles Sturt University, with the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) as a delivery partner , was an innovation challenge focused on addressing major water-security concerns. Applicants were invited to submit innovative solutions for how we can maintain high agricultural productivity whilst optimising water usage and reducing environmental impacts from agriculture. The winning solution pitched by our team, AquaporinSolutions, described a technological advance designed to harvest nitrogenous compounds from water sources and ultimately address nitrogen pollution in our waterways using filtration membranes inspired by plant water and nutrient channels called Aquaporins.
The leaders of the AquaporinSolutions team, Dr Samantha McGaughey and Dr Annamaria De Rosa from the ANU, along with their research group leader Dr Caitlin Byrt, are one of eight teams selected from 100 applicants to participate in the research stream of Bridge Hub Water Challenge. This innovation challenge is hosted by Bridge Hub, the innovations branch of the Blue River Group, and aims to bring together experts, researchers and innovators from Australia, New Zealand, Israel and other leading water nations to identify and commercialise cutting-edge water technology solutions for the agri-food system.
We hope that this innovation challenge will allow us to rapidly build on our technology and move towards commercialisation. This amazing opportunity was only made possible through support from CEAT, CBRIN and the H2O Hackathon experience. The AquaporinSolutions team will also be running an interactive workshop in November supported by CBRIN to collaboratively explore how aquaporins can solve food and water challenges. For more information visit the event page.