Cicada Spotlight: Rob Hulme from The Boralis Group

Get to know Rob Hulme, CEO and Group Director of The Boralis Group, and Cicada Innovations' Expert-in-Residence with The Grains Challenge Program. 

Rob brings a wealth of experience to the table. As CEO of The Boralis Group, he's spent the last 30 years working in global agribusiness, specialising in driving sustainability, circular food systems and helping businesses scale their production. Rob also has experience spotting promising Climate Tech startups as a Venture Partner at Investible, giving him valuable insight into VC expectations. 

Currently, Rob is Cicada Innovations' Expert-in-Residence for The Grains Challenge Program, helping Ag Tech and Climate Tech companies grow. With his extensive background across the agricultural value chain, Rob is uniquely positioned to share insights that bridge the gap between scientists and engineers and the agribusiness industry, helping them discover the potential of their technologies for transformative change.

What are you most excited about teaching in The Grains Challenge Program? 

As a fifth-generation farmer, I'm most excited about translating some of the knowledge that has been passed down to me, as well as the knowledge I've accumulated over 30+ years, including that from the overseas market. More specifically, I can leverage my insider knowledge for Ag and Climate Tech startups to drive impactful change and propel Australian agriculture into the future to solve agriculture's most pressing problems. 

What insights about the Ag industry do you think are important for start-ups to know? 

Look, there's a really common theme emerging around building and strengthening your startup’s collaboration, coordination, and communication. When you have a compression of capital or access to capital, maximising efficiency is crucial for success. Startups need to be strategic in developing their products or services and going to market. We are seeing much more of an increase in collaboration and coordination in the marketplace.

What are the most challenging aspects of investing in Ag tech? What features would make an Ag Tech company suitable for investment? 

While it's natural to be passionate about the technology you've developed, the biggest impact often comes from focusing on the problem you're solving, not just the tech itself. 

We sometimes see entrepreneurs who are overly focused on technology and haven't clearly articulated the problem they're addressing as they enter the market. Remember, investors back people first and foremost. They want to see founders who are resilient, excellent communicators, and strong team players who can turn their technology into a solution that truly solves a critical need.

The Grains Challenge Program:

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Cicada Innovations are on a mission to find and help innovators translate deep tech solutions into commercial impact, all for the grains industry.

Find out more about our The Grains Challenge Program Here.