Meet the 2020 Imagine Cup EMEA Regional Final Judges

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Next week, ten student teams from across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will virtually pitch their purpose-driven applications at the Imagine Cup EMEA Regional Final. This year’s competition judges are tasked with selecting which teams have developed standout solutions to drive change in our society.


Our panel includes industry experts with backgrounds in sustainable research, public speaking, advising startups, leading technology teams, and more. This combined expertise will allow judges to dig deep into a team’s innovation, both from a technology standpoint and for their potential to tackle leading global issues. They will evaluate whether solutions are inclusive in their design, are a viable business framework, and have leveraged Azure technology to create an application that is unique and impactful.


During the EMEA Regional Final, each student team will pitch their solution, answer questions, and showcase their technology to the judges during hands-on demo time. The result? Two innovations will be selected to advance to the 2020 World Championship this May and win USD8,000, plus three runner-up teams will each take home USD2,500.


Meet our EMEA Regional Final judges!



Marjolein Helder

Founder and CEO - Plant-e


As founder and CEO of Plant-e, Marjolein has been working on commercializing electricity production from living plants ever since her PhD research. Since founding, the company has grown to 10 people and has launched and commercialized several products. Marjolein is also a regular public speaker for a multitude of events, including TEDx, and she’s active in different governance functions. She’s part of the board of directors of a housing corporation as well as an international energy company, where she is valued for her entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking.



Michel van der Bel

President - Microsoft Europe, Middle-East and Africa


As President for Europe, Middle-East and Africa, Michel van der Bel leads Microsoft’s business across the region, and is responsible for sales, marketing and operations across the Microsoft product and services portfolio. As Michel plays a lead role in accelerating Microsoft’s own transformation into a company that empowers every individual and business to achieve more, he is also able to bring unique insights into cultural and technological transformation to the customers he works with. Michel is committed to empowering individuals and teams to creatively solve challenges and identify new opportunities.



Jennifer Ritzinger

General Manager, Audience Evangelism – Microsoft


Jennifer leads a team responsible for Microsoft’s technical events for IT Professionals and Developers, including leading the global strategy for student developer evangelism at Microsoft headquarters, helping to guide the world’s students to learn valuable programming concepts and skills for their futures. She is also a co-host of the Women in Technology and Countdown Shows, showcasing stories of diversity in IT and behind the scenes of some of Microsoft’s largest conferences.


Joe Wilson.JPG

Joe Wilson

CEO – Risenu BV (RISE)


As CEO of Netherlands based company Risenu, Joe is focused on investing and ensuring startup companies succeed and give back while they profit. His experience from running startups to managing billion-dollar businesses on the world stage bring a unique view on both strategy and hardcore tactical results. Prior to Risenu, Joe was the Chief Marketing and Operations Officer for Microsoft Central and Eastern Europe, Worldwide General Manager of Microsoft’s Developer Relations as well as Global Senior Director for Student Programs. Joe is also the veteran of 5 startups ranging from a repair service to interactive 3D platforms, HR tech, logistics and Martech companies across cloud, SaaS and on premise.


Judge #5 To be announced


Follow the competition journey on Instagram and Twitter to find out which two teams judges will select to move forward. They will head to the Imagine Cup World Championship in Seattle to compete for USD100,000 and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella! 

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