Vinehealth Australia’s Acting CEO Suzanne McLoughlin was invited by the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative and Wine Australia to participate as one of the industry experts at the 2024 Nudgeathon event in Brisbane in early April.

Organised by the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Behavioural Economics, Science and Technology (QUT BEST), the event brought together industry experts, government officials and an eager cohort of students.

Nudgeathon is a behavioural change competition that has become a cornerstone in addressing real-life social issues. This year’s focus was ‘Nudging for Better Biosecurity’ and attracted 20 undergraduate and postgraduate student teams of four from across the country. Their mission was to develop innovative solutions to two problems presented, aimed at bolstering Australia’s plant biosecurity measures.

The first challenge was focused on increasing the uptake in biosecurity preparedness activities among farmers, growers and producers, such as by having a biosecurity plan.

The second challenge was focused on engaging everyday Australians in the identification and reporting of pests and diseases.

With the support of industry and government partners, participants immersed themselves in a whirlwind two-and-a-half-day event. They received a crash course in plant biosecurity from a joint industry/government panel, enriching their understanding of the complexities surrounding plant biosecurity and the intricate landscape of biosecurity policy and practice.

Armed with the two problem briefs, laptops and white boards, and guided by behavioural science principles and newly found understanding of plant biosecurity, the teams worked until all hours of the morning to craft their solutions. These solutions were tested along the way by feedback from industry experts who visited the teams at work.

After a long night for the teams, their presentations were honed and submitted with an accompanying two pager. It was then time to face the judging panel of experts hailing from academia, government, and industry for a rapid-fire nine minute presentation showcase of their solutions, attempting to stand out amongst their peers.

Presentations were impressively polished, and some innovative ideas were presented with the promise of transformative impact. After careful deliberation, the judging panel awarded first, second and third prizes, and the competing teams voted their peers for a People’s Choice prize. All powerpoint presentations, two-page submissions and videoed presentations, including those of the award winners can be found here.

“It was fascinating to hear from the project teams and provided food for thought in relation to Vinehealth Australia’s projects and communications to ensure the use of simple language and community engagement,” Suzanne said.

“At the heart of Nudgeathon 2024 was an aim of cultivating a new generation of advocates for biosecurity. Many of the students arrived with limited knowledge of the subject matter but departed as passionate champions, understanding the complexities of biosecurity beyond that which is reported on Border Security.

“The success of Nudgeathon 2024 underscores the power of collaboration, innovation, and education in tackling pressing societal challenges. As Australia continues to confront the complexities of plant biosecurity, events like these serve as critical in engaging a new generation to become biosecurity advocates and force us all to reevaluate how we communicate and think with a broader community.”

For more information about Nudgeathon 2024 and past initiatives, visit the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Behavioural Economics, Science and Technology website.

Nudgeathon experts 2024. Image credit. Queensland University of Technology Centre for Behavioural Economics Science and Technology.