Our judges comprise of business professionals, with experience of working the entrepreneurial startup business, as well as startup entrepreneurs themselves.

  • Jackie Cooper

    • FIOEE, Serious Impact Business Advisor
    • Allia

    Judge Round 2

    First educated by starting and developing various small businesses, Jackie went on to add strategic and theoretical knowledge to underpin her ‘learning by doing’ experience by studying Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Management. She is now a Fellow of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs, and is passionate about empowering people to achieve their best. As an avid supporter of entrepreneurship as a career choice, Jackie works with start-ups, impact ventures, high growth businesses and students of all levels – in fact, anyone who wants to develop themselves within the entrepreneurial space.

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  • James Barlow

    • Freelance CFO

    Judge Round 2

    James Barlow is a Chartered Accountant and has spent the last 15 years as Finance Director of small and medium-sized companies. He has significant experience of the full life cycle of young companies – from raising finance through to successful exits. He is currently Finance Director of a number of young companies involved in the development and manufacture of Radio Frequency (RF) detection equipment, online soccer games and software development.
    As a core member of AREA, James is a guest lecturer at ARU and mentor’s student start-ups in Anglia Ruskin’s incubator space, The StartupLab.

  • Christine Michaelis

    • Creative Start-up Academy

    Judge Round 1

    Christine is a trained Coach and NLP Practitioner. She has worked in marketing and advertising for more than ten years before she decided to start her own business as a Marketing and Creative Start-Up Coach. Now she is mentoring students at the Anglia Ruskin University and University of Essex as well as working with individuals and small businesses. With her hands-on approach, she has helped hundreds of individuals validating their business idea and creating a successful start-up.

    She is also the founder of the Creative Start-Up Academy (www.creativestartupacademy.com) – online courses for start-ups, author of several books, Vice President of the European Startup Association and Founder of the Digital Nomad Town.

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  • Emma Mee

    • Serious Impact Accelerator Programme Manager
    • Allia

    Judge Round 3

    Emma joined Allia with a passion for driving ambition with impact entrepreneurs, and helping to focus, scale and accelerate start-ups within the Cambridge eco-system.
    In previous roles, designed and ran the first two years of the Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs competition for Unilever, and has 12 years’ experience at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability delivering senior executive leadership programmes for blue chip clients. An experienced project manager with a wealth of expertise in sustainability, she provides a useful sounding board to those starting businesses in the impact space. Emma also brings a large local network to Allia, and will draw together the activities and enterprise communities around Cambridge for the benefit of Allia’s own members.

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  • Ceri Nursaw

    • Chief Executive Officer
    • NCEE

    Judge Round 3

    Ceri Nursaw is the Chief Executive of NCEE, which supports higher education to build its enterprise and entrepreneurial future. From 2015 Ceri has grown NCEE’s global reputation with programmes in China and the Gulf. She has extended NCEE’s national influence including continuing to support the influential Entrepreneurial Leaders programme, which has worked with over 150 senior university leaders. She also runs her own company supporting social mobility that has universities and the NHS as its clients.

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  • Nigel Kappes

    • Founder
    • Unipreneurs

    Judge Round 1 & 3

    Nigel is an accomplished entrepreneur with extensive MNC, SME & Start-Up experience spanning multiple B2B & B2C solutions, products & services. 20 Years of senior experience, 12 as Director and has served as Interim Director to 15 start-up enterprise spanning CRM, Marketing, Security, Finance, Apps, Education, Wi-Fi, Project Management, Retail & Hospitality. Nigel has been responsible for creating over £100m in new revenues for his clients and today holds two Directorships and is a Founding member of UniPreneurs UK Ltd.

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  • Dr Elisa Alt

    • Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Planning, MBA Course Leader
    • Anglia Ruskin University

    Judge Round 2

    After a creative career in advertising, Elisa left Brazil to start her career in academia and pursue her passion to helping business become more responsible toward society. Elisa is Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Planning and MBA Course Leader at Anglia Ruskin, and does research at the intersection of strategy, entrepreneurship, and social issues in management.

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  • John Niland

    • Chief Executive
    • Provide

    Judge Round 1 & 3

    John Niland has a degree in Politics from the University of Essex and post-graduate degree from the University of Southbank in Urban Policy.

    Although the bulk of John’s career so far has been in the local government setting, having worked for 16 years in various positions, he previously worked in both the voluntary and independent sectors. He was a transport planner with Essex County Council before moving into the planning and commissioning services in social care. He is credited with setting up community and accessible public transport schemes across the county of Essex.

    John’s involvement with the NHS began in 2004 when he became PEC Chair of the former Maldon & South Chelmsford PCT, and then Joint PEC Chair of Mid Essex PCT. He was appointed Project Director, Provider Services in April 2007 and is now the Chief Executive of Provide.

    In October 2015 John received an honorary doctorate award in Health Sciences from Anglia Ruskin University.

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  • Neil Prem


    Judge Round 2

    Neil Prem is a much in demand transformational career coach who supports change makers to create authentic and meaningful careers and businesses that make a serious impact and pay the bills! He believes that everybody has a gift which the world desperately needs and he will show you how to start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.

    Polly Gilbert says he’s ‘a start-up genius’ and David Thomson calls him ‘the most profound and insightful person.’ He has helped to transform over 1500 emerging social entrepreneurs from 50 nations into inspiring thought leaders that people want to follow and in doing so create over 500 new social businesses, enterprises and community projects.

    He has written for The Coach and Liberty Magazine and has been interviewed on the BBC and has led workshops at some of the world’s leading universities including Cambridge, Oxford and Warwick.

    One of the first professional coaches in the UK he has personally trained over 40 career coaches and has developed the widely used iCARE and DREAM coaching models and cofounded the Allia Serious Impact Programme.

    He is a stroke survivor, has lived worked and travelled in over 25 nations and is a whole plant food enthusiast.



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  • David Bell

    • Co-founder & Managing Director
    • Simboc Limited

    Judge Round 1 & 3

    David is a highly accomplished, award winning, company director, entrepreneur, business coach and motivational speaker. David is passionate about helping others succeed and driving businesses forward to achieve their full potential. David Co-founded APC Solutions Group when he was just 17, it is now a leading global specialist in Wireless Communications and Network Infrastructure. David’s most recent enterprise was founded in early 2013: Simboc Limited, a business consultancy and management company providing bespoke services to other businesses.

    David frequently receives public speaking requests and has vast experience presenting at awards ceremonies, universities and corporate events. David Founded The Speaker Expert in early 2015 to help coach and train individuals who want to learn how to speak and present like an expert. The Speaker Expert is now the go to speaking organisation for many business owners and their teams.

  • David Sexton

    • ARUL Principal, MSc, CPFA, FHEA

    Judge round 1

    Following thirteen years working as a senior academic with Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), including three years as a Head of Department within the Business School, David joined ARU London as a senior lecturer and academic adviser in 2007.  He filled the role of Executive Director and Dean at ARUL in 2010 and has been Principal since 2012.

    After a decade in the accountancy profession, culminating in several years as a Group Accountant, David has led several educational organisations through substantive change including transforming a failing primary school as Chairman of Governors, and re-launching an academic community (ACIPFAL/JFMPS).

    David has been directly involved in the launch and growth of three Start-Up organisations, has mentored several budding entrepreneurs, and advised numerous small businesses.

  • Elene Marsden

    • Trainer
    • BetterACTnow

    Judge Round 1

    Elene Marsden is currently providing GDPR workshops for businesses across the region to help prepare for the new data protection regulations coming into force on 25 May. She is also an expert on video marketing and creating YouTube channels.

    Uploading fresh weekly video content is something Elene has proved works with her Preloved Chica brand on YouTube. Elene’s favourite mantra is Continuous and Never Ending Improvement.
    Website Link www.hangouts4business.com

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  • Walter Herriot OBE

    • Honorary Doctor of Business Administration, 2008

    Judge Round 2

    Walter is one of the most important social entrepreneurs in the UK and a key contributor to the Cambridge technology base. He started his career within the world of banking before making his name as the man who nurtures UK technology enterprise – a pioneering role that has made him known throughout the East of England. Walter was the Managing Director of St John’s Innovation Centre from 1990 until his retirement at the end of November 2008. In 1999 Walter was awarded an OBE for services to businesses in the East of England and in 2002 was the Cambridge Evening News “Businessman of the Year”. In 2006, he received the Queens Award for Enterprise Promotion and in 2008 Walter received an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University.

    He is Chairman of Grant Instruments, a member of the Finance East advisory panel and consults to universities and governments.