The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility is one of the foundation members of the Safeguarding Australia through Biotechnology Response and Engagement (SABRE) Alliance. SABRE was launched by the Department of Defence in July 2022.

Science for security

Protecting Australia’s environment, food security and agriculture industry is all closely linked to our national security. The SABRE Alliance is a Defence initiative that recognises an environmental or biological attack by hostile actors could have a profound impact on our national food and biosecurity, and that plants themselves might act as ‘biosecurity sentinels’.

To guard against this type of threat, SABRE aims to better connect the biotech capabilities of Australia’s universities, research facilities, manufacturers and small businesses, with our national security needs.

Along with the APPF, NCRIS facilities Bioplatforms Australia and the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) are SABRE Alliance members. As national infrastructures, we are keen to make our capabilities and facilities available for advancing biosecurity, biotechnology, and data acquisition and analysis with other SABRE Alliance members.

More than co-investment

The main aim of the SABRE Alliance is to improve Defence’s awareness of research that could have a national security benefit. Defence hopes the SABRE Alliance will help build relationships with the research and technology sectors, to the benefit of both sides.

For Defence, that means knowing more about the innovations being studied and developed, and their possible applications for national security.

For science, it means a major partner for project exploration, funding, commercialisation and staffing/training, and new links to other biotechnology players around the country. Initial areas of interest include human performance, genomics, bioinformatics and synthetic biology, as well as biotechnologies relating to agriculture and biosecurity.

The SABRE Alliance emphasises cooperation and collaboration on setting shared research priorities, commercialising outcomes, and supporting existing funding channels alongside establishing new funding programs.

SABRE will also play a part in Identifying skills gaps, facilitating training and development programs, supporting post-graduate programs and providing researchers with added skills in translation and commercialisation.

Opportunities for the APPF

For us at the APPF, this could all lead to exciting new opportunities with agricultural, commercial and national security benefits – from identifying ways to use plants as ‘biosecurity sentinels’, to building more efficient platforms for surveying and analysing plants at field-scale.

We also have an important role to play in supporting researchers from universities, biomedical companies, agriculture and even technology companies to study, test and refine plant science projects with SABRE potential.

How can you get involved?

Delegates who are attending this year’s Science Meets Parliament SMP2023: On The Hill event have been invited to register their interest to join a special SABRE Alliance event on the following day, Thursday 23 March, at the Hotel Realm in Barton, ACT.

The SABRE SMP forum will allow specialists in in biotechnology, human health, genomics, bioinformatics, synthetic biology, agriculture, advanced manufacturing and biosecurity to learn more about connecting their research with opportunities to support national security.

You can learn more about this event here.