About

Ten years ago, motivated by the urgent need to tackle the increasing disconnect between citizens and policymakers, and to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies, Friends of Europe crafted a leadership programme unlike any other: the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme. To celebrate the programme’s anniversary, we travelled through the past ten years to share ten inspiring stories.

Our anniversary celebration features volleyball player Valentina Diouf; Rokhaya Diallo, a journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist; Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange; renowned chef Eneko Atxa; serial entrepreneur Ivan Stefunko; bionic pop artist and futurist, Viktoria Modesta; Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas; Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, CEO and Founder of Women’s WorldWide Web (W4); Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Bastian Obermayer; and Qëndron Kastrati, former mayor of Kamenica, Kosovo. Click here to learn more about our selection amongst 350+ wonderful profiles.


Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …

We’ve learned time and again that the challenges of the 21st century and of our ever complex world cannot be addressed using the rulebooks of the past. The world is screaming for a new type of leadership and a Renewed Social Contract in which the private sector, local and multilateral institutions, and citizens can collaborate and drive change.

Today’s leaders may look back in time for inspiration, but they must lead with innovation.

The European Young Leaders represent an alternative infrastructure of leadership – a new generation of leaders able to inspire action and generate change. Together, their passion, diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and innovative thinking create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.

Our European leaders are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs and astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by local and multilateral institutions, traditional political frameworks or bureaucracy. They provide alternative perspectives to EU decision-makers and challenge the status quo.

They help take Europe out of Brussels. In their own countries, cities and communities, the European Young Leaders also play an essential role in reconnecting people with and rebuilding trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole-of-economy, whole-of-society approach to progress more quickly. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and helping build a European identity.

The programme in the next years will take a new localism lens, bringing together these thinkers and leaders to act on some of the key issues affecting Europe’s future: supporting the green and digital transformation, strengthening our democracy, improving relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing and building a more diverse Europe.

Succeeding in these policies and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.


Tune in to the EYL40s on Friends of Europe’s podcasts

Frankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now

Leading view

Frankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now

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Frankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans

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Frankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans

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Everything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!

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Everything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!

Jane Burston

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Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

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Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

Joss Garman

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Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

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Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

Una Mullally

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Continue to Meet the EYL

Meet the EYL40

Photo of Samir Abdelkrim
Samir Abdelkrim

Founder EMERGING Valley & Member of the Digital Strategy Group of the Africa Europe Foundation and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Samir Abdelkrim  is not only a French entrepreneur but also an author and a tech reporter. Passionate about all things digital, he founded EMERGING Valley as an international summit on African innovation to connect tech start-ups with investors, thinkers and decision-makers across continents. He also leads StartupBRICS, a company that provides insights on entrepreneurship in emerging economies. Abdelkrim is a former chronicler on African tech entrepreneurs for Le Monde and has also featured in the Huffington Post, Le Point and Les Echos. His book, “Startup Lions”, chronicles his experience travelling the African continent in search of the most interesting and innovative tech start-ups. With French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative “Summit of the Two Shores of the Mediterranean”, Abdelkrim was amongst 10 selected to make proposals to relaunch European and Mediterranean cooperation.

Velibor Boskovic
Velibor Bošković

Managing Director of Science and Technology Park Montenegro and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Velibor is a Montenegrin economist, who was appointed by the Government of Montenegro to serve as the Managing Director of Montenegro’s first science and technology park and one of its most significant scientific research and innovation projects. He also serves as the President of the Center for Development and Entrepreneurial Society. With extensive experience in both the private and public sectors, Velibor’s career has focused on development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and enhancing SMEs in Montenegro. Before taking up his current post, he was the general director of FK Budućnost, Montenegro’s biggest football club. He has also served as director of Montenegro’s first business incubator, ‘Inventivnost’, and as director at an entrepreneurship and innovation centre, ‘Technopolis’, where he remains as President of the Board. Additionally, Velibor has co-founded two private companies, one of which works in economic consultancy and one of which operates within the pharmaceutical industry.

Karoli Hindriks
Karoli Hindriks

Founder and CEO of Jobbatical and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Karoli is an Estonian entrepreneur and creator of Jobbatical, a forward-looking global mobility company. On a mission to make immigration more resourceful, Jobbatical is changing individuals’ lives and building high-performing teams by relocating exceptional people to impactful tech jobs around the world. Since founding her first company at the age of 16, officially making her the youngest inventor in Estonia, Karoli has been on a fast-track to setting up innovative initiatives. She is regularly counted amongst today’s most influential women, having received numerous awards and recognition from prestigious organisations, including EU-Startups and the European Council. She was also nominated as speaker of the 2017 Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women International Summit. Thanks to her influence, she also led the launch of seven television channels in Northern Europe, including National Geographic Channels and MTV.

Hera Hussain
Hera Hussain

Founder of CHAYN and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Hera is the Founder and CEO of CHAYN – a global non-profit that creates resources on the web to address gender-based violence. CHAYN’s multilingual resources, designed with, not for survivors, have reached more than 500 000 people. Raised in Pakistan and living in the UK, Hera committed early to tackling violence against women. She believes in using the power of open-source technology, trauma-informed design and hope-filled framing to solve the world’s pressing issues. Hera is an Ashoka Fellow, and was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 and MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 list.

Jonathan Petrides
Jonathan Petrides

Co-Founder and CEO of AllPlants and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Jonathan is an innovative Cypriot serial entrepreneur who is convinced that the best thing to do for the planet is to inspire far more people to eat plants. He launched a successful vegan ready meals business in 2016. From their kitchen in London they use bold flavours and hyper convenience to bring more plants onto plates across the UK. With chef-made plant-based food delivered nationwide, they are inspiring more people to eat healthily and in turn are helping the planet. Since launching the company, he has received a number of culinary awards for pushing the boundaries. Constantly striving to bring innovative people together and easing citizens’ lives, Jonathan previously launched a Kenyan mobile banking app and a network of rural health centres.

CRISTINA POZZI
Cristina Pozzi

Co-Founder and CEO at Treccani Futura and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Cristina is an Italian businesswoman and social entrepreneur with a passion for emerging technologies and a goal to ensure everyone has access to a digital future. She is the CEO of Tercanni Futura, an Italian cultural EdTech hub and the product of the Treccani Scuola acquisition of Impactscool. Cristina co-founded Treccani to raise awareness about innovative education, stimulate reflection on the ethics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and encourage citizens to adopt a more forward-thinking approach to technological change. She led Impactscool as CEO for five years, prior to which she co-founded Wish Days, where she served as general manager and a board member. Her motto, “the future is open source”, acknowledges that the future is shaped by and accessible to everyone. A published author, Cristina is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Ethical AI in Education and an Independent Advisor on the Advisory Board of Fondo Italiano d’Investimento SGR.

Mate Rimac
Mate Rimac

Founder of Rimac Automobil and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Mate is a Croatian innovator, entrepreneur, and founder of the car company Rimac Automobili. He started off at the age of 19 in a borrowed garage, tinkering, dreaming, and already thinking several years ahead of the traditional car industry. Soon enough, he built a global name for himself, crafting battery tech for the likes of Aston Martin and Renault. He also created the world’s first electric ‘supercar’, the Rimac Concept One. In 2012, he set out to prove that electric cars could be faster than conventional fuel. His dream became reality, as Mate’s ‘Green Monster’ electric car won a Guinness World Record for the fastest ¼ mile. He’s received widespread recognition and support for his projects, including USD 90 mi investment from Hyundai and Kia.

Johannes Schildt
Johannes Schildt

Co-Founder and CEO of KRY/LIVI and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Johannes Schildt  is a Swedish serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of KRY/LIVI, which he plans to develop into the world’s leading healthcare provider by combining medical expertise with state-of-the-art technology. Currently available in Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the business has pioneered the digital healthcare model by enabling people to see a medical doctor or a psychologist via remote video connection, thereby replacing the need for in-person consultations. To date, the app has delivered over two million appointments and is set to launch in more markets this year. Long part of Europe’s start-up scene, Schildt has also founded a number of other initiatives, including Tieday Group and Wowallets.

Diva Tommei
Diva Tommei

Founder and CEO of Solenica, Inventor of the smart lighting robot ‘Caia’ and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Diva is an Italian scientist and entrepreneur with a fervent interest in robotics and sustainability. She channelled her passion by creating a home robotics start-up Solenica and developed an AI-powered smart mirror that reflects natural light around the home. The idea to transform indoor spaces came to Diva while working towards her doctorate in Computational Biology in Cambridge, where she spent much of her days inside craving sunshine. Diva is also a graduate of the Singularity University programme on exponential technologies at NASA in 2010. She was awarded the Premio Giovane for the Environment and the Young Global Innovator Award by the MIT Tech Review for Italy, as well as the Pleiade International Award for Innovation and New Technologies.

Kristina Tsvetanova
Kristina Tsvetanova

Tech Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of BLITAB and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kristina currently works in customer experience and enterprise transformation at MURAL, where her role is to help customers scale their innovation culture and accelerate their digital, design and enterprise transformation. As the co-inventor of BLITAB, the world’s first tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people, Kristina has drawn the world’s attention to the role of digital innovation in easing people’s lives. She also serves as a judge of MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge, an initiative of MIT Solve which seeks to find global solutions through entrepreneurship. Kristina has previously served as an innovation consultant to the G7 in the area of Technology, Research & Innovation. Having cemented herself as a leader in the digital field, while simultaneously promoting the needs of children, women and people with disabilities, Kristina has received worldwide recognition for her work. She was named Rising Innovator by the EU Prize for Women Innovators and the European Laureate of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

Wietse van der Werf
Wietse van der Werf

Founder & CEO of Sea Ranger Service and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Wietse is an award-winning Dutch social entrepreneur and conservationist, pioneering regenerative blue economy ventures. Wietse has received wide recognition for his innovative approach to mobilising businesses, governments and citizens to form uncommon partnerships for the social, economic and ecological regeneration of European coastal and ocean areas. His current venture, the Sea Ranger Service, trains unemployed young people from port cities with the help of navy veterans to manage Marine Protected Areas in European seas. A new type of professional sailing vessel has been developed for the Sea Rangers, with cost-effective sea operation and zero emissions.

Chanyu Xu
Chanyu Xu

Founder and CEO of her1 and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Chanyu is a German serial entrepreneur, passionate foodie and start-up mentor from Berlin. In 2009 she co-founded her first successful ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) start-up Customer Alliance which is currently used by over 3,500 hotels in 35 countries. Chanyu has since co-founded several food-tech start-ups, including eating.de backed by star investor Peter Thiel and her1, which offers tips and products for a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. Her latest start-up, ONO LABS, provides women with 100% natural nutrition before, during and after pregnancy.

Darya Yegorina
Darya Yegorina

Founder & Board Member of CleverBooks and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Darya Yegorina

Darya is an Irish entrepreneur and influential global pioneer of the role that ‘augmented reality’ (AR) can play in education. She recently created CleverBooks to provide personalised educational content for students by utilising three-dimensional AR technologies. Darya has been widely recognised for her work, having won the Digital Female Leaders Award in Entrepreneurship as well as being named an Innovator by the Irish Times and a Young Irish Entrepreneur. She has been featured in Inc.com, Forbes, CBS and many other global media platforms for her efforts to bridge the technology gap in classrooms around the world and boost student outcomes.

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Events

Continue to Selection process

Selection process

APPLICATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2023 ARE NOW CLOSED.
NOMINATIONS FOR UKRAINIAN NATIONALS* ARE OPEN UNTIL 24 JUNE 2022

The European Young Leaders programme is a unique, inventive, and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future.

The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of European leaders from all over the continent and various backgrounds, including politics, business, civil society, academia, arts, science, and the media.

The programme acts as a forum for those who have already established themselves at the forefront of their professions to meet, discuss and collaborate with their counterparts from other fields of expertise. Previous candidates include government ministers, CEOs, Michelin-starred chefs, international film directors and high-profile journalists.

Since the launch of the programme, we have gradually taken steps to ensure the diversity and exceptional quality of its selection process. We have made sure that its comprehensive and competitive nature ensures the identification and selection of remarkable individuals.

We aim to select 40 European Young Leaders of diverse backgrounds to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders.

 

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1983).
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path towards EU integration (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo**, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia).
  • Candidates should have established themselves at the highest levels of their chosen profession or be on track to do so.
  • Candidates must be committed to serve society at large through noteworthy contributions and have demonstrated a record of significant achievements and outstanding professional experience.
  • Candidates are also evaluated based on their ability to contribute to the enrichment of the programme as a whole.
  • Candidates are required to be fluent in English as it is the working language of the programme.
  • Candidates must commit to participating in at least one of the two EYL seminars during the programme year.

Please click HERE for the detailed Selection Guidelines 2023.

Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at eyl40@friendsofeurope.org.

*The current crisis has prompted us to open up the programme to Ukraine as a pilot initiative. In future years we hope to find a way of including more people who are not EU nationals/citizens but are contributing positively to current Europe (e.g., candidates from our neighbourhood countries and refugees).
**References to Kosovo here are used without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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