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Meet the Judges

The UMaine Business Challenge is working to propel the careers of aspiring student entrepreneurs. We have employed many different methods to make this reality, however one crucial one is the selection of our panel judges. The panel judges are tasked with both selecting the winner and using their backgrounds to provide value insight/contributions to our students’ business ideas.

The panel of judges for our first annual competition has been formed from various educational and professional backgrounds. Each has had very successful careers, providing exceptional contributions to their field and beyond. We are truly honored to have them on board and know with them on the team the competition will be prepared to reach its pinnacle.

John F Burns, CFA

John has 28 years of institutional investing experience; the last thirteen as Principal of the Maine Venture Fund, where his responsibilities include the full range of venture capital investment activities.  He has been directly involved with bringing risk capital to more than 40 Maine companies, and has led the Fund through a number of successful exits.

John serves the entrepreneurial neighborhood in Maine in many ways, through Board service (Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board, Top Gun Advisory Board, CEI Community Ventures & others), as an Observer to company Boards, and serves as a frequent speaker and panelist on venture capital, and public/private venture capital, issues.
John holds the CFA designation and an MBA with High Distinction from Babson College, a MS in Resource Economics from Penn State, and has served as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Maine. John and his wonderful wife Nancy White share their home with their children, family, friends, pets and chickens.

Jesse Moriarity



Jesse Moriarity is the Coordinator of the Foster Center for Student Innovation and co-director of the Target Technology Incubator at the University of Maine. The majority of her time is spent providing business and project counseling services. She is an Innovation Engineering Black Belt and loves spending her time helping companies figure out how to make their ideas a reality.
Previously, Jesse worked at Bangor Hydro Electric Company as a web and graphic designer. She also worked for Chef Michael Gagne for a number of years at the Osprey and Robinhood Free-Meetinghouse in Georgetown, Maine. She is a University of Maine graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a minor in New Media.


James Page

James was born and raised in Caribou, ME. He earned his B.A. in History from University of Maine Fort Kent, M.Phil. from the Department of Logic and Metaphysics at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and Ph.D. in Philosophical Foundations of Mathematics from MIT. He has taught in Dartmouth College and University of Kansas in the past.

He returned to Maine in 1997 and took a position at James W. Sewall Company, an international consulting firm specializing in energy, infrastructure, and natural resources. He was appointed CEO of the firm in 2001. He has also served as a member of University of Maine Board of Visitors, founding director of the Gulf of Maine Oceanographic Observing System, member and chair of the Maine Geographic Library, and member of the Board of Directors of the Campden National Corporation.

He was named Chancellor of the University of Maine System in March 2012.

 Susan MacKay

Susan is a Founder/CEO of Cerahelix. Cerahelix has developed a ceramic nanofiltration membrane to provide efficient, high purity separations under harsh conditions for the industrial water treatment market.

Prior to Cerahelix, Susan spent 5 years as CEO of Zeomatrix, a materials research startup that produces patented odor control paper products. She has more than 20 years’ experience in materials research and characterization, including 6 years in corporate R&D at 3M Corporation. She was a member of the inaugural Maine Center for Entrepreneurship’s “Top Gun” class in 2009, in 2011 she participated in the Mass Challenge as a finalist, and she has raised more than $400K in seed equity for Cerahelix. Susan holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill and was named a “Woman to Watch” by Mass High Tech in 2011.