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 …
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, a citizens can collaborate and be the drivers of 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. Their passion, their diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and their innovative thinking together create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.
Our European leaders provide alternative perspectives from outside the institutional and political frameworks to EU decisionmakers writing the rule book.
The European Young Leaders also play the essential role of helping to reconnect people with and rebuild trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole economy whole society approach to progress fast.
They are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by multilateral or frameworks, or burocracy.
They help take Europe out of Brussels, in their own countries and cities. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and help 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: the green and digital transformation, strengthening of our democracy, relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing, and building a more gender and diverse Europe.
Succeeding in these policies together and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.
Tune in to the EYLs on Friends of Europe’s Leading Views podcast
Leading viewJoss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?
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 and CEO of ERGON Foods, 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 renowned 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 Spanish architect, who has designed and managed more than six million square metres across five continents. Under Alfredo’s leadership, his architectural, urban and interior design firm 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 and SOM. Internationally-renowned, Alfredo was recognised among the most important and emerging young architects and designers by the European Centre and the Chicago Athenaeum Architecture Awards, and his work has been featured in various media outlets, including The New York Times, Wallpaper and Domus, among others.
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.
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PLEASE NOTE THAT THE APPLICATION DEADLINE WAS MARCH 15. THE APPLICATION PROCESS IS NOW CLOSED
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 the most promising European leadership from all over the continent and with a wide variety of 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 in order to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders.
- Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1982);
- 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 seminar during the programme year.
To be considered for the 2022 selection process, all applications and nominations must be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Application deadline: Monday, 15 March 2021
To read in detail about the selection process, please click here
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