Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII)

Date created: Date modified: 26 Jan 2024

Research for real-time and accurate asbestos detection

The Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) provides startups and small to medium enterprises with grant funding to develop innovative solutions for government policy and service delivery challenges. BRII is administered by the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.

In 2021, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) made a successful submission to the BRII – Regulatory Technology (RegTech) Round, calling for new and innovative technology for the real-time and accurate detection of asbestos fibres in air and/or solid surfaces, to overcome technical limitations for asbestos detection with existing real-time devices. Any solution delivered would also need to be non destructive (i.e. not necessitating the removal, drilling or disturbing of a material to be tested) and capable of meeting regulatory requirements.

Fact sheet about ASEA's challenge for real-time and accurate asbestos detection.

Research phases

The research is being undertaken in two phases—feasibility studies and then proof-of-concept studies.

Five applicants to ASEA’s RegTech challenge were successful for the 3-month feasibility study phase in 2022. They received grants totalling $487,573 to test ideas to make the detection of asbestos more accurate in real-time and less burdensome overall. These were:
•    Portable Analytical Solutions Pty Ltd, for in situ detection of 6 asbestos types in bulk and airborne filter samples
•    Urban Analytics and Complex Systems (UACS) Consulting Pty Ltd, for Asbestos Vision, a smart phone app to identify asbestos and connect people
•    Alemir International Pty Ltd, for ALERT, for a real-time monitoring and warning device for airborne asbestos
•    Flawless Photonics Pty Ltd, for a hand-portable in-situ real-time non-contact asbestos sensor
•    Predictive Analytics Group (PAG) R&D Pty Ltd, for in situ detection of asbestos in wall panelling using microwave technology.

Two applicants—Flawless Photonics and PAG R&D—progressed to the proof-of-concept phase in 2023, receiving an additional $1 million funding each from BRII to further develop their technologies over 15 months. ASEA is supporting both teams with regular technical work group meetings, providing asbestos subject matter expertise and support in engaging with relevant industry partners and other stakeholders.

Proof-of-concept research teams

Flawless Photonics 

The University of Adelaide (UoA), through its Prescott Environmental Luminescence Laboratory | Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, have partnered with Flawless Photonics to develop a breakthrough hand-held real-time asbestos sensor device using novel fluorescence technology.

Their core research team is composed of:

  • Dr Cornelia Wilske, Dr Jillian Moffat, Dr Alexandra Chapsky, Dr Tom de Prinse, Danielle Questiaux, Joshua Rusby, Piers Lincoln, Dr Erik Schartner, Helena Wescombe-Down and Prof. Nigel Spooner from the University of Adelaide
  • Rob Loughan and Dr Alexander Hallock from Flawless Photonics

More information on the entire UoA/Flawless asbestos sensor project team


PAG R&D have formed a collaborative team to investigate microwave sensors for the in-situ detection of asbestos in wall sheeting, in combination with AI methods to classify the probability of asbestos presence in building products.

Their research team is composed of: 
•    a data science team—Dr Theo Gazos, Dr Clair Alston-Knox, Dr Chris Strickland, Dr Mingzhu Sun
•    an IT team—Dr Wendy Nguyen, Mevan Ramanayake, Dingding Tian 
•    other research partners—Prof. Graham Gardner, Dr Jayaseelan Marimuthu (Murdoch University) and Barry Alston (Asbestos Assessment Services)

Further information

Progress updates on these projects will be provided on our website and via social media.
More information on the current BRII RegTech round can be found here