Meet the Judges for the 2023 Imagine Cup World Finals

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The Imagine Cup is one of the most highly anticipated student technology competitions in the world, and we are excited to announce the judges for this year's world finals.  These experts in technology and innovation will be evaluating the projects of the talented student participants who have worked tirelessly to solve some of the most pressing issues facing our world. With a passion for creativity and a deep understanding of cutting-edge technology, our panel of judges is poised to provide insightful feedback and select the next generation of problem-solvers who will make a lasting impact on the world.

During the regional finals, the top 48 teams will have the opportunity to present their purpose-driven solutions to the judges who are experts in their respective fields. The judges will evaluate the projects through a rigorous process that includes a pitch, demo, and question-and-answer session. This will allow the judges to gain a deeper understanding of each team's technology, its potential impact, and the originality and skill of the student participants.

The teams will be competing for a chance to win a total of USD85,000 in prizes and the top scoring team in each region will then advance to the 2023 World Championship in May.  This year we are excited to host the competition using a bracket style format, inspired by the 2022 World Cup Tournament.



Meet our World Finals judges! 






Somanna Palacanda

Sr. Director Global Strategy



Somanna works in the Office of the EVP & President at Microsoft – National Transformation Partnerships. He runs a program that provides a blueprint for Microsoft to orchestrate a global approach to support a country’s national priorities while continuing to serve as an execution engine to earn trust and build the right social capital to earn the license to operate as a global company. With over 25 countries in the program, he works closely with the leadership team of each country to jointly develop a plan to transform national economies by earning trust, building a sustainable future, inclusive economic opportunity, and protecting fundamental rights promoting inclusive economic growth through thoughtful strategies, one country at a time. Through this investment and strategic plan, governments, citizens, and businesses can leverage the world’s largest and most trusted cloud and AI infrastructure network. Each country plan is designed to bring Microsoft’s mission to life one country at a time. Somanna has been working at Microsoft for 20 years across multiple products across marketing, sales, and engineering




Juliana Garaizar

Chief Development and Investment Officer and Head of Houston Incubator

Greentown Labs


Juliana is the Chief Development and Investment Officer, and Head of Houston Incubator at Greentown Labs. A Board Member of the Angel Capital Association, Juliana Garaizar is a Lead Investor of the Portfolia Rising America Fund that invests in BIPOC and LGTBQ founders, as well as the Portfolia Consumer and Rising Tide Funds. She is also an Advisory Board Member of the University of Houston Cougar Venture Fund, the Houston Diversity Fund, the Investors of Color network and Impulse4women. A Kauffman Fellow experienced in Bridging the Gender Gap in investing, she is part of the City of Houston’s Women Commission. Juliana was the Texas Medical Center Venture Fund Director and the Managing Director of the Houston Angel Network. She was the Manager of the French Riviera's Sophia Business Angels network and Antipolis Innovation Campus and Project Manager of several International Projects funded by the European Commission. Previously, Juliana worked for five years in Singapore: first as an International Trade Consultant for the Trade Commission of Spain in a broad range of industry sectors and then as a Project Manager for the Asia Technology Office of Citigroup, leading projects at the international level. Juliana obtained an MBA at the London Business School and Haas School of Business in Berkeley, specializing in Entrepreneurship.




Caitlin Chambers

Director of Strategic Finance



Caitlin is Director of Strategic Finance at Paige, a company developing digital pathology and AI solutions to improve patient care and save lives. She informs the company’s overall strategy and partnerships. Prior to Paige, Caitlin held roles investing into infrastructure projects and high-tech companies enabling infrastructure transformation, working closely with management teams to develop and execute on growth plans. She received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, and in her free time loves to travel and run. 




Anthony Bartolo

Principal Cloud Advocate Manager



Anthony leads a team of Cloud Advocates at Microsoft who are focused on empowering faculty and students to learn and grow through technology.  Anthony has a passion for helping drive digital transformation in higher education through cutting-edge cloud solutions.  He is a lifelong learner himself and always invests time to continuously develop his own skills and learning.




Joel Semeniuk

Vice President of Ecosystem Collaboration



Joel is the Vice President of Ecosystem Collaboration at Communitech and established Canada’s largest and most successful open innovation program. Joel is also the Founder of HORIZONthree, an organization dedicated to fueling organizational transformation through open innovation practices. A Microsoft Regional Director and (previously) MVP in ALM, Joel is the co-author of four books and has spent the last 28 years creating and growing tech-based ventures in manufacturing, healthcare, tech, and transportation. This journey involved Joel helping to establish startup accelerators in Hong Kong, Silicon Valley, the UK (United Kingdom) and the Vatican.







Anand Swamy

Sales Director, Education



Anand is the Country Head, Education for Microsoft India. He is responsible for driving growth and differentiation across portfolios at Microsoft and has over 20 years of experience in sales, operations, and business development. He has held several positions during a tenure of nearly 12 years with Microsoft. He has played diverse roles across organizations within the Middleware and IT Security space for Oracle Corporation and Wipro Ltd. Anand works closely with key customer and field stakeholders and likes to measure the impact of Microsoft on Education in India. He is a core believer in democratization of IT, and his passion to empower every student to achieve more, every teacher to work more effectively, and every school to provide equal opportunities for students to thrive.




Madoka Chiyoda

Cloud Developer Advocate



Madoka is a Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft based in Japan. After graduation, she joined a tech startup as a mobile app developer, where she gained experience in Microsoft technologies such as Azure and .NET, her passion for Microsoft technology led her to joining Microsoft in 2016. In her free time Madoka likes to play video games and draw manga, she has 90K+ followers on Twitter (@chomado). 




Cara Wood

Social Value and Outcomes Leader


Cara has over twenty years facilitating social outcomes, encouraging organizations and project teams to become inclusive by design and reap the rewards! She is passionate about being led by cultivating innovative cultures and community led solutions making. Cara’s lived experience has guided her to work across the non-profit (environmental and disability advocacy), government and industry (mixed use/ major transport infrastructure and urban renewal) landscape, always with community at the center. Cara firmly believes that great things happen for all of us when we are rooted in our purpose and open the door for others.






Dr. Kanpassorn Suriyasangpetch

CEO & Founder



Kanpassorn is an army dentist turned tech entrepreneur from Thailand. After suffering with mental health herself, she founded OOCA, an app where users can directly video-call their psychiatrists and psychologists - it's the first mental wellness app for people in Thailand, where there are limited numbers of mental health professionals. Ooca has more than 150k users since 2018 with 50 public and international companies in their client portfolio. She continues to create a proper ecosystem that supports mental health providers and provides better access with less stigma for people in society.  Kanpassorn was recognized as one of 100 most inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2018 from BBC100 women.



Renee Noble

Cloud Advocate



Renee is the Regional Cloud Advocate for the broader Australia region as well as the Microsoft Reactor in Sydney. She's passionate about technology, education, community, and bringing them all together in-person and online.

Renee is a staunch advocate of women in tech, spending her spare time leading the Girls' Programming Network to support women and girls in tech and growing support for under-represented communities in IT as the CEO of Tech Inclusion. She also teaches computer science in a high school and runs her own business, ConnectEd Code, working to bring exciting coding opportunities to kids and teachers. She’s been named among the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence in 2019, featured as one of Women’s Weekly’s “Women of the Future”, and showcased by CREATE Magazine in their “10 Emerging Women of Engineering”.







Dr. Rebecca Pope

Digital & Data Science Innovation Lead Roche


Rebecca is a clinical neuroscientist & Roche UK's Digital & Data Science Innovation Lead. Rebecca's focus is working with the NHS, governments, regulators, clinicians and patients on how we can bring the advanced technologies that we’re used to using in our everyday lives, like artificial intelligence, into healthcare at scale. She has held data positions at KPMG, IBM, The Health Foundation and the NHS.  She is also an honorary Senior Research Fellow and PhD supervisor in AI at UCL, TEDx speaker and has been voted as one of 'The Most Influential Women in UK Tech'. Rebecca published a number of academic research papers, wrote several scientific commentaries in The Times & The Guardian, and is the recipient of National awards for her research endeavors.
Rebecca is deeply passionate about equality, diversity & inclusion in STEM & society and is part of several initiatives & networks that encourage an inclusive environment where everyone feels empowered.




Vânia Neto

Education Skills Lead


Vânia is the Microsoft Education Skills Lead for Western Europe. She is responsible for the Education Skilling strategy and the relationship with Education Institutions, Faculty, Educators and Students. She is deeply involved in the AI Skills initiatives developed in Western Europe, as well as the agenda for Digital Skills, supporting Europe’s Digital Transition goals. She joined Microsoft in 2011 as the Partner in Learning Manager in the Portuguese Education Team, and in 2014 became Education and Philanthropies Lead for Microsoft Portugal. Late 2018, she moved to the Western Europe HQ as Education Sr. Product Marketing Manager, until moving to the current role, in January 2021.

Vânia has a Law degree and has previously worked in the Public Sector, for Central and Local Government entities in Portugal. She is a Digital Skills and Girls in ICT advocate, and, currently Advisory Board Member of ALL DIGITAL, a pan-european association that works on enhancing digital skills across Europe.




Julia Muiruri

Academic Cloud Advocate



Julia is a Cloud Advocate at Microsoft, where she helps to empower developers and IT professionals with the skills and knowledge to build and manage cloud solutions. She is also a recent graduate of the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador program, where she demonstrated her passion for technology and her ability to share her knowledge with others. Julia was also a Runner Up in the Imagine Cup, EMEA 2020 Regional Finals and is an active member of the tech community, dedicated to making a positive impact in the tech ecosystem.




Ouafa Benterki

CEO and Founder

MTY Intelligent Software

Ouafa is the CEO and Founder of MTY Intelligent Software, Microsoft Regional Director and President of the Algerian Chapter of the Arab Women in Computing Organization. She is proud to be a Microsoft for Startups Mentor, President and Founder of The Association for Machine Translation in Algiers and Microsoft Trainer BYB (Build Your Business- Entrepreneurship). She was recognized as a Techwomen 2012 Emerging Leader, US Department Program for Women Emerging leaders in technology from Africa - Mena Region - and Eastern Europe. Ouafa completed the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in Business Mentoring, is a member of the Arab Women in Computing Organization and lead of the Open Source Committee and member of the Computer Science Research & Publication Committee.




Dr. Gerard Gorman


Devito Codes


Gerard  is a career professional in data intensive high performance computing from Supercomputing to Cloud and has a BSc in Physics; MSc in computing; and PhD in computational physics. His Academic interests involve code generation and compilers, numerical modelling, inverse problems, high performance computing adaptive mesh methods, mesh generation and data science.


Follow the competition journey on Instagram and Twitter to find out which 12 teams the judges will select to win in the competition’s four categories—Earth, Education, Health, and Lifestyle—in each region.  The top team in each region progress to the World Championship in May. 

Stay tuned as they get ready to compete for the chance to take home USD100,000 and a mentoring session with Microsoft Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella! 


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