Rob Hulme, Asia Director for Beanstalk who is making innovation happen in agriculture and food

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Tell us about your business

Beanstalk (www.beanstalkagtech.com) is an agriculture and food innovation agency. We have deep experience in open innovation, strategy, policy and operations. We sit at the intersection of industry, innovators and investors in food production, and have unique skills that help our agribusiness clients breakthrough. Beanstalk loves big, hairy challenges. We strongly believe that game changer solutions are already out there and just need to be connected. These are often drawn from adjacent industries, applied or put together differently to create something new and scale at pace. We use technology, networks and insights to find answers across scientific and industrial domains. We have extensive connections with global incubators and accelerators, investors, governments and NGOs, universities, food innovation venture builders and innovation hubs.

What’s your role all about?

As Asia Director, I have been growing our business model for Asia and building our team. We see Singapore as an emerging agrifoodtech hub in APAC that will be key to supporting the growing demand from Asia.  Current projects include vertical farming expansion, waste to energy and circular economy, marine plastics, food waste and support for various Accelerator programs including the GROW accelerator where Beanstalk are a program partner.
What’s the hot topic in your sector right now?

Covid19 is causing significant disruption to global food supply chains, reflected in fluctuating forecasts, restricted market access and limited airfreight options. While food production bases continue to be largely remote, intermediate sourcing, processing and traditional retail models are causing downstream impacts on supply and demand. Countries with an inherent food security risk such as Singapore are investing heavily in expanding domestic food production (i.e. 30by30 strategy) while continuing to work closely with strategic trading partners such as Australia to secure food supply. The growth in plant proteins, cellular agriculture, vertical farming and gene editing are driving new innovations in food production platforms, and present significant opportunities for Singapore. More broadly a focus on systems approach to sustainable food production that incorporates regenerative agriculture and low carbon farming is generating significant interest from investors.

Why are you a member of AustCham in Singapore? What do you find best about the Chamber?

AustCham provides a great networking platform among the Australian expat community, while advocating for businesses who have chosen to establish in Singapore as a base for Asia Pacific. AustCham also provides for a regional presence across the ASEAN region, and together with the Australian High Commission helps strengthen the Singapore-Australia partnership to continue to build opportunities for growth.

Where are your go-to places in Singapore for great coffee?

For a lazy Saturday morning it is hard to beat the outside deck of the PS Cafe at Dempsey that backs onto the lush rainforest

48 Hours in Singapore – What Are Your Must-Do Experiences? 

Mornings are better before it gets too hot, so use that time to get out and about. Singapore is a melting pot of culture and food, but it’s only a small island so a guided morning bike tour or hawker food tour is a great way to take in some history, see the sites and experience the culture shifts. The Tiong Bahru area is good for breakfast in a hip cafe, and don’t miss the Botanic Gardens for the treetop walks, orchid garden and lunch at Botanico. When it is hotter in the afternoon head to the newly refurbished Raffles Hotel for a drink in the long bar, the cool interior of Gardens by the Bay or the latest exhibition at the National Gallery opposite the Padang. Evenings are a visit to your local hawker centre or a restaurant around Tanjong Pagar and Ann Siang Hill. Finish up with a drink at a rooftop bar in Amoy Street. Jewel (Changi Terminal 1) is also an amazing shopping and food precinct for travellers.

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AustCham Singapore

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