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Simon Speirs's success story

Simon Spears is director and co-founder of consulting company, Colere Group. He grew up working on his family’s farm, and completed an Agricultural Science degree with Honours at Sydney University - but he was attracted to the innovation opportunities within the industry.

“I was interested in going back to the farm,” Simon said, “but circumstances made a channel toward science innovation.”

After completing his degree, Simon worked for an agri-business company before returning to study by completing a PhD in soils.

He then joined the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries where he worked for eight years, before completing a Masters of Business Administration and moving into agri-innovation consulting.

The business is now 12 months old and focusses on finding commercial solutions through science, innovation and R&D.
“Our objective is basically connecting science and commercial outcomes in food, fibre and biotech. Increasingly, there are start-up entrepreneurial methodologies coming into agriculture in Australia. We’re about connecting – thinking through the strategic options for innovation from a commercial perspective.”

Simon likes that his job allows him to work with a diverse range of people, and he especially enjoys being a part of start-up agriculture projects and opportunities.

“It’s about understanding where opportunities are and helping others along their journey,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of change and excitement in agriculture. There are some really good skills coming from outside agriculture into the industry.”

Simon and his business partner Paul are growing their business, but they’re also exploring their own start-up ideas in food and biotech.

“I’m trying to kick off a food business which is basically about trying to develop a social enterprise business model to consolidate a body of farmers and deliver a particular series of products into a specific market,” Simon said.

“I’m interested in how cooperatives work, how social enterprise works, and novel ways to influence farmer profits and customer value.”

Simon’s tips for others wanting a career in innovation/ag:

– Think about what you want to do: There are multiple pathways to different jobs and the nature of how we influence agricultural systems is changing. Think deeply about how you can build skills to meet that intention.
– The ability to work with, listen to, and understand people – customers, supply chain partners and farmers – is the most important component.

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