Sophia is a Swedish entrepreneur, currently working with Cherry Ventures, a Berlin-based venture capital fund. She focuses on seed-stage investments in successful and sustainable businesses. Now an advisor, she previously worked as Partner at Atomico working on Nordic sourcing activities. Here, she advised founders on communications, marketing strategies as well as on opportunities to scale up their brand. As Global Marketing Director at Spotify from 2007-2014, she established a strong consumer brand from scratch, while launching and marketing the service globally. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the non-profit organisation, Race For The Baltic, and the Viktor Rydberg School Foundation
Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …
For almost a decade the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme has brought together the brightest minds and outside the box leaders to put their innovative thinking to work at building a more forward-thinking Europe that is a global champion for a better world. The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of leaders, able to tackle the increasing disconnects between citizens and political elites, to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies.
These promising and established leaders come from a variety of backgrounds including politics, business, civil society, arts, science and the media.
The 2020 Class of European Young Leaders:
Tune in to the EYLs on Friends of Europe’s Leading Views podcast
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Leading viewNegar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media
Leading viewUna Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change
Meet the EYL40
Thomas is the Founder of ERGON, an affordable, high-quality Greek restaurant chain-come-grocery store outlet that now has locations in 13 cities worldwide. Thanks to a network of over 150 independent, local, artisanal producers who create 600 products under the unified ERGON brand, the company is able to offer the widest available range of the best that Greece produce has to offer. A role model and an inspiring entrepreneur, Thomas has set an encouraging example for Greek youths on how to thrive in the face of devastating recession.
In addition to her role as a biochemist, Suvi is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sulapac, a company that develops innovative and fully biodegradable wood-based packaging. Named one of Helsinki’s hottest start-ups in 2018 by WIRED magazine, Sulapac products offer a viable alternative to the plastic packaging most commonly used for food, commodities and cosmetics. A former researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, Suvi holds a PhD in biomaterials and is committed to halting the build-up of microplastics in the world. In 2017, Sulapac was awarded Europe’s first founder’s prize for the circular economy, going on to win both the Green Alley Award and the Sustainable Beauty Award in Paris that same year.
Abdalla is a serial entrepreneur and award-winning Fintech expert. He specialises in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the design of complex financial systems. Throughout his career, he founded a number of start-ups and companies specialising in deep learning, professional match-making and Fintech. Furthermore, Abdalla is an Alumni of Microsoft Ventures UK and worked on projects which were featured at the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos. He is also an academic at the University of Malta where he lectures and researches topics related to computational intelligence, financial engineering and financial data science. In addition to these roles, Abdalla advises governments on matters related to strategic development and the utilisation of technology, Fintech, and Blockchain/DLT technologies.
Marta is a London-based fintech entrepreneur who co-founded the real time pay start-up FreeUp. She is also an entrepreneur-in-residence at the global GovTech firm PUBLIC.io. Having experienced first-hand the challenges that arise when attempts are made to send money home, she helped co-found the global money transfer platform Azimo, raising over $70mn in funding and gained over 1mn customers. Marta is a frequent public speaker and advocate for responsible leadership and inclusion.
Andreas is the CEO and Co-Founder of KONUX, a company that combines smart sensors and analytics based on artificial intelligence (AI) with the aim of guaranteeing the punctual operation and maintenance of railway networks. While working for corporations like Siemens and BMW, Andreas came to the realisation that many industrial companies were not yet aware of the advantages accompanying the Internet of Things, nor did they know how to properly make use of their data. He managed to raise +$50 million with leading Silicon Valley investors and just a year later, KONUX won the national mobility award ‘Deutscher Mobilitätspreis’ along with the German digital award ‘The Spark’ in 2016. That same year, Andreas was the youngest CEO to be included in the entrepreneur list by the German Capital Magazine.
Alex is a computer scientist turned entrepreneur who is leading the technological developments enabling independent retailers to compete against larger chains. Over the past 5 years, he has raised $13.8 m from a range of investors, including eBay and Google. Alex is also actively involved in the UK start up ecosystem, by simultaneously building his own company and taking on the role of mentor and advisor for various events. Previously a member of the inaugural cohort of EntrepreneurFirst, Europe’s leading pre-seed investment programme for technical founders, Alex was included in both the global and European Forbes 30 under 30 lists of 2016.
Maria Lucia is an internationally well-known fashion designer, who has seen her clothes worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna. After working several years in Paris and Milan as a textile designer, Maria Lucia returned home to Romania to open her own shop with a modest 800 euros investment and two second-hand sewing machines. After gaining a substantial number of followers on social media and being discovered by Hollywood, she currently runs her renowned fashion brand with 70-woman employees from Bucharest. Additionally, Maria Lucia is a strong advocate for women’s rights and has publicly criticised the excessive consumerism upon which the fashion industry thrives.
Alfredo is a global architect who has designed and managed more than six million square meters across five continents. In addition to being the youngest internationally-renowned Spanish architect, he was also selected for the European Centre & Chicago Athenaeum Museum Architecture and Design bi-annual awards programme. Under Alfredo’s leadership, ABIBOO has designed projects in a wide range of scales, from large urban developments and affordable housing townships to small temporal structures. Before founding ABIBOO, Alfredo held senior roles at Toyo Ito (Pritzker Prize), and SOM (1,700+ awards).
Daan is a Dutch artist and innovator; he’s a creative thinker who explores the relations between people, technology and space through social designs. Having been inspired by natural phenomena like light-emitting fireflies and jellyfish from an early age, Daan’s long-standing fascination with nature and technology is reflected in designs that include his Smart Highway project (roads which charge from sunlight and glow at night) and Waterlicht (a virtual flood). His Smog Free Project has seen the creation of the largest outdoor air purifier in the world, transforming smog into jewellery, and the Smog Free Bike which cleans the surrounding air with every pedal. In 2007, he founded Studio Roosegaarde, a internationally renowned social design lab where he works with his team of designers and engineers to craft a better future. Together, they develop ‘Landscapes of the Future’ by building smart sustainable prototypes for the cities of tomorrow.
Riccardo is a renowned Italian scientist and entrepreneur specialised in numerical modelling of complex systems such as financial markets and computational genomics. In 2015, Riccardo and his lab presented an algorithm to predict traits such as height, eye colour, and even facial structure based on reading a person’s genome via a tiny blood sample. Today, he’s attempting to solve drug design at the genomic scale with his company, Orionis Biosciences. Riccardo is also deeply involved in education for entrepreneurs. He founded the Quantum ESPRESSO Foundation, a non-profit charity supporting young researchers around the globe to get involved in material science.
Past event online
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- By Katarzyna Nawrot
- By Robert Shirkey
- By Edvard Glücksman
The EYL40 programme is a unique, multi-stakeholder programme which aims to promote a sense of European identity by bringing together forty of the brightest European leaders every year and engaging them in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future. We aim to select 40 European Young Leaders of diverse backgrounds in order to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders. Additionally, in 2020, the programme will include 6 Young Leaders from the Western Balkan region. In doing so, we aim to promote structural dialogue across the continent that will foster better mutual understanding.
Since the launch of the programme in 2012, 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. Candidates can either apply or be nominated for the selection process of the programme.
- Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age;
- Candidates must be a national of an EU member state or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path to EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro);
- Candidates should have established themselves 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 seminar during the programme year.
Due to Covid-19, no European Young Leaders class will be selected for 2021. Application for the class of 2022 will open in the spring of 2021.
*references to Kosovo in this document 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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