Lucas Harris

A Bendigo-area resident is proving that a great idea can be a ticket to world travel.

Lucas Harris, 22, is off to Guangzhou, China next month to present his idea for a fire-prevention device in a contest for technology inventions, the Asia-Pacific ICT Alliance Awards.

The Victoria University student came up with the invention after he went to Italy last year as part of the university team participating in the prestigious tech start-up training school, the European Innovation Academy.

With help from his College of Business entrepreneurship lecturer and mentor, Selvi Kannan, Lucas connected with some VU engineering students to create FireFly, a sensor system designed to monitor the risk of household fires before they start.

The device came runner-up for university student innovations in both state, and then national finals of the Australian National Awards last month, making him eligible for the contest in China.

Lucas’ interest in fire prevention became personal after his family was forced to evacuate its 160-hectare farm that backs onto state forest near Shelbourne, during recent bushfires.

“I’ve always had an interest in innovation and wanted to design something that I was passionate about. This has been received better than I expected,” he said.

The device, while still in prototype, can detect changes in temperature, light, air quality and motion inside a house.

It can then send alerts to a mobile phone when risk levels increase, such as when a sizzling fry pan exceeds a safe temperature, a hot stove has not been monitored for a long time, or an electrical appliance shorts out.