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TerraLab's Harley Schinagl and partner at home in San Remo

Arming ag with innovative tech ideas

3-minute read

Discover how TerraLab, overall winner of the Innovate with nbn® Grants Program, has accelerated its innovation efforts with help from the grant.

About 90 minutes’ drive southwest from Melbourne is the picturesque township of San Remo (Bunurong /Boonwurrung Country) – the gateway to Phillip Island and its world-famous penguin colony.

It’s here, nestled among the homes of the sleepy seaside town, that you’ll find Harley Schinagl, Director and Principal Consultant of geospatial and environmental consulting business, TerraLab.

The brains behind STA logger – an automated weed mapping attachment fixed to herbicide application equipment – nbn last year recognised TerraLab as Agriculture winner and overall Innovate with nbn Grants Program Champion for its work in developing the innovative and world first technology.

About TerraLab and STA logger

The Innovate with nbn Grants Program aims to encourage businesses from regional and remote areas with their technology-led ideas, with the goal of facilitating and supporting further growth.

Game-changing ideas like TerraLab’s STA logger.

Existing weed control equipment can be fitted to the device, which, once set up, automatically records location and activity as the operator carries out their work.

As the device charges overnight, data is uploaded via Wi-Fi and made available on a web-based map. This allows operators to easily plan their work, view statistics, publish maps and report to clients, among other capabilities.

Enabling regional innovation through connection

“Without nbn, launching our business would have been highly unlikely,” says Harley.

By being connected to the nbn network, Harley was able to establish the business using a work-from-home model, ensuring TerraLab’s office could remain regional while avoiding limiting talent to a small geographic area.

“Currently, all employees located more than one-hour drive to our office and all daily operations are carried out through video conferencing, instant messaging, digital whiteboards and email.

“Not only are our STA logger customers world-wide, but we also have consulting clients from Europe and North America too. This requires regular video conferencing and sharing of data.”

Harley and Michelle Schinagl from TerraLab standing outside their house in San Remo, Victoria

Harley and Michelle Schinagl from TerraLab

How the grant has contributed to TerraLab's success

As winner of the Innovate with nbn Grants Program Agriculture category, TerraLab received a grant of $15,000 – plus an additional $20,000 as overall Champion.

Since winning, with the grant’s assistance, TerraLab has been able to bring on board a marketing specialist for a three-month period – and STA logger’s development has accelerated.

The device now has a tree planting attachment, which means the business is continuing to revolutionise land management practices by using internet connectivity.

“The tree planting attachment required hardware design, prototyping and testing, as well as a software update for presenting the data to users,” says Harley.

“The product design was already in its preliminary phase at the time of entry, but the grant helped accelerate its completion in time for the southern hemisphere’s planting season.

“As a small team with capped resources, our outreach is limited. This grant will provide us a tremendous opportunity to reach new customers throughout Australia.”

Innovate with nbn Grants Program

In partnership with the Regional Australia Institute, the Innovate with nbn Grants Program reflects nbn’s commitment to lift the digital capability of people and business in regional Australia.

Run for the third consecutive year, innovative businesses enabled by the nbn network were awarded grants of $15,000 across seven categories: Agriculture, Arts, Education, Health, Indigenous Business, Tourism, and Women in Regional Business, with the overall Innovate with nbn Champion awarded an additional $20,000 grant to help support their bright idea.

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