Meet the Forward Food Tech team

Rob Ward


Rob has wide experience that spans from running one of the largest commercial soft fruit farms in the UK to product design and innovation (patenting the first commercially available hydroponics field scale strawberry growing system) to creating, building and selling businesses all ranging from grocery retail and wholesale distribution; food and drink CPG and FoodTech.

In 2009, Rob took a world study tour to research innovation in grocery retail and food and beverage as a Nuffield Farming Research Scholar. He co-founded the world’s first CPG Seed investment Accelerator for the food industry. Exiting the business in 2019, he founded Forward Food Tech to ensure that agri-foodtech brands have fully developed their commercial proposition and are investor-ready.

Rob is also a Dealmaker at the UK government's Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP).

Damian Buckley

Commercial Operations Director

Damian describes himself as a ‘quintessential rural professional’. From paddock to plate - he’s either grown it or raised it, processed it, commercialised it and, of course, consumed it.

An intentionally curious (experience driven) mix of hands-on practical primary sector production and agribusiness spanning revenue and business development in agriculture, horticulture, agribusiness, education, media, data and financial farm software in NZ, UK and the Pacific. 

Previously in Kellog’s Rural Leadership Programme - NZ, Volunteer Service Abroad - NZ, an ex Trustee of Agri-Women’s Development Trust - NZ and an award winning journalist.

Illy Dimitrova

Digital Marketing & Client Relations Manager

Illy runs the online marketing for Forward Food Tech, where she was second to join and had the privilege of building the company's marketing operations from scratch. Illy is also the producer of the Forward Food Tech and Soil Health Hub podcasts.

After graduating in London, Illy ran marketing at a SaaS start-up and freelanced with multiple other SMEs. She founded a confectionary food business which went on to win a Great Taste Award.

Her passion(fruit) for food and agriculture was sparked by her family - her grandma was a renowned agronomist and her dad, who runs a cherry orchard. In her free time, Illy goes hiking or cycling and hunts for exotic recipes on YouTube.

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