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Here are the judges for the Demo Day of Project SET: Scholars Entrepreneurship Training!

Here are the judges for the Demo Day of Project SET: Scholars Entrepreneurship Training!

Leave a Nest Philippines and the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute will have its first Demo Day of Project SET: Scholar’s Entrepreneurship Training at the inaugural National Youth Science, Technology, and Innovation Festival (NYSTIF).  Seven finalists and seven lightning talk teams will pitch their business ideas to judges from Leave a Nest's Japanese and local network. We are honored to announce the complete list of judges for the most anticipated pitching competition in NYSTIF.


Short Bios of Japanese Judges

   Dr. Yuko Ueno

Leave a Nest Co., Ltd.

Dr. Yuko Ueno received her Ph.D in Ocean microbiology-biochemistry and joined Leave a Nest in 2013. She has experience in human resource development especially in entrepreneur education, and frontier business development with MNC. While utilizing her own research experience, she discovers and nurtures deep tech startups in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines where the Leave a Nest Group is based, and at the same time designs new businesses for Japanese companies in collaboration with the startups. She also has experience in accelerating Japanese deep tech startups to enter the Southeast Asian market and Southeast Asian startups to enter the Japanese market.

Yukio Toyoshima

PwC Japan LLC

Mr. Toyoshima joined Hitachi, Ltd. in 1980.  He was in charge of global strategic alliances such as technical collaborations/ assistances, licenses, joint ventures, capital investments, M&A, etc. Furthermore, he set up common business strategies for Hitachi’s group of companies overseas. Through his carrier in Hitachi, he was stationed in Thailand and Singapore.

From 2019 to 2020, as a JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) volunteer, he taught marketing and strategy at the Republican Graduate School of Business and Management in Uzbekistan. Thereafter, he joined JICA Headquarters being responsible for human resources education. 

He is currently affiliated with PwC Japan LLC, in charge of consulting and M&A.

Kazuo Nakamura

JETRO Philippines

He has more than 30 years of experience at Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), a government related organization mandated to promote trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. Previously, he was assigned to the New York and Toronto office. More recently, he was a director at JETRO Tokyo in charge of overseas promotions and branding of Japanese Agri-food products. He arrived at the Philippines in June 2021 and is looking forward to assisting businesses between Japan and the Philippines.

Seiji Emoto


Mr. Emoto joined Sekisui Chemical as a researcher in 2014, and was mainly engaged in the development of components for sewer rehabilitation for around 3 years. After studying abroad, he joined a startup company (S.E.A.T.S Inc.) in 2017 as a local director, which is engaged in wholesale seafood in Cambodia. During his two-year tenure with the company, they expanded the number of employees and sales. In 2019, he joined Yoshimura Food Holdings and engaged in the improvement of its management. He was in charge as the local director of a food manufacturing subsidiary in Singapore and achieved record operating profit for two consecutive years. From May 2023, he joined Instalimb and is currently engaged in overseas business development, mainly in the Philippines.

Short Bios of Philippine Judges

Dr. Enrico Paringit

Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD)

Dr. Enrico C. Paringit is the Executive Director of the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development. His specialization is in the field of remote sensing and modeling of hydrological and coastal environments and in disaster risk reduction. He has conducted numerous research projects including the Disaster Risk Exposure and Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) and Phil-LIDAR 1 Programs that used laser mapping technology to identify flood-prone areas throughout the country. At PCIEERD, he introduced reforms in the R&D and startup grants schemes, capacity-building and pursued partnerships to enable and accelerate the pace of innovation in the Philippines.

Rafaelita “Lala” Castro

Department of Trade and Industry

Ms. Rafaelita C. Castro or Lala, as she is fondly called, was the Director of Operations of the ASEAN Japan Center (AJC) in Tokyo for three years, from October 2, 2020 to October 1, 2023. During her stint at AJC, she worked towards the enhancement of ASEAN-Japan trade and investment relations and strengthening of network linkages between ASEAN and Japanese companies. Ms. Castro was seconded from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Philippines where she has more than 25 years of experience in trade promotion. In addition to her work in export promotion, she led the “Doing Business in Free Trade Areas”, a nationwide advocacy program on the benefits of Philippine free trade agreements (FTAs) which was shortlisted in ITC’s (International Trade Center’s) 2014 TPO (Trade Promotion Organization) Network Awards held in Dubai. She was also a member of the Philippine team that negotiated the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA). Ms. Castro holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics and a Master of Public Management degree, both from the University of the Philippines. She is now back in the Philippines as head of the Market Innovation Division of the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) of the DTI.

Nicole Paterno

Independent Consultant

Ms. Nicole Paterno is a former head of impact investment of Villgro Philippines. She is also a coach in The Coding School where she teaches coding fundamentals, graphic design, and digital literacy. She is also a board trustee of FTW Foundation. Her interests are angel and impact investing, startups and social enterprises, curriculum design in entrepreneurship, and gender development.

Atty. Amy Irene Ofrin

Law Office of Flores & Ofrin

Atty. Ofrin is a corporate law practitioner. Her expertise lies in business structuring and registration, project finance, property development, land titling and conversion, taxation and human resources management. She has extensive experience in servicing corporate clients particularly with regard to corporate housekeeping, business and trademark registrations, contract drafting and review, tax audits, business reorganizations, and employee relations. She deals, in behalf of clients, with most government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Energy, Department of Agrarian Reform, Register of Deeds, Intellectual Property Office, Department of Labor and Employment, and local government units.

Jonas Marie Dumdum

Nomura Research Institute Singapore Pte Ltd. Manila Branch

Mr. Dumdum serves as an Industry Solutions Consultant and Lead of the NRI Manila Sustainability Service of NRI Manila Branch. His work at NRI includes ESG/Sustainability Systems and Development, Climate-related Impacts to Businesses, Renewable Energy and Sustainability, Water and Wastewater Management, Overall Waste Management, and Industry-related Solutions for companies and institutions in the Philippines. Jonas is a Registered Chemist by profession with more than five years' experience as a Sustainability Practitioner.

Apart from his work at NRI, he serves as Environment Technical Working Group Head for the Stakeholders' Chamber for the Sustainable Development Goals by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) representing the Sustainarumble! Podcast – the first podcast in the Philippines that talks about issues on sustainable development in the country. He serves as Corporate Secretary of Sustainable PH, Inc., a nongovernment organization promoting the causes of sustainability in the Philippines.


Short Bios of Poster Judges

Ms. Mariela Alcaparras, MSc

Ateneo Intellectual Property Office

Mariela Alcaparas is the Program Development Officer at the Ateneo Intellectual Property Office, a Design Thinking Trainer and a former consultant for USAID-STRIDE. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's degree in Environmental Science, has IP practitioner certifications from JPO and WIPO Academy, and successfully completed the Harvard CopyrightX program. Currently, she is also a part-time faculty member at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and is actively involved in projects focusing on university-enterprise collaboration for resilient communities. With a background in various S&T research projects, her research interests encompass innovation, entrepreneurship, soil science, and environmental management.

Thelma Samson-Maraña

TOMASInno Center

Ms. Maraña is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Education at the University of Santo Tomas. She is a Certified Student Affairs Specialist. She was formerly the Chair of the Thomasian Employees Credit Cooperative (ThomECC) and is now the Chair of its Community Service Committee. She is also the Vice Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Philippine Federation of Credit Cooperative – National Capital Region. She is currently the Program Coordinator of the TOMASInno Center, the official Technology Business Incubator of the University of Santo Tomas.

Ferdinand Japhet Limon

Ford Metal Enteprises

Mr. Limon is obtained his Bachelors degree in Manufacturing Engineering at MAPUA University. He is currently the Director of Operations of Ford Metal Enterprises. Ford Metal Enterprises is a company that specializes in fabrication of machine components. Their services include fabrication, machining, machine design, gear manufacturing and casting. It is built around the core of dynamic individual with expertise and knowledge in the field of engineering.

Jonathan Co

Manly Plastics

Jonathan Co is the general manager of the Proprietary Products Business Unit of Manly Plastics Inc and it’s sister companies Sentinel Plastics, Sanko Plastics and First Pinnacle Trading Corp where he primarily does product development; sales and marketing and organizational development.

He graduated with a degree in Plastics Engineering from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver Canada. He also studied Management Information Systems from the Ateneo de Manila University.


For previous announcements on Project SET, please visit the following links:

Project SET: Scholars Entrepreneurship Training: Finalists and Lightning Talks Announcement

DOST-SEI Scholars of Project SET: Scholars' Entrepreneurship Training successfully complete their comprehensive module series

For further details of Project SET and its future editions, you may contact Edilyn Grace Odero from Leave a Nest Philippines ([email protected]) and Robby Reyes from DOST-SEI ([email protected]).