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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

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

Leading view

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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Negar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media

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Negar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media

Negar Mortazavi

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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 of EMERGING Valley, Author, Entrepreneur and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Samir 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. Samir 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”, Samir 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, President of the Center for development and entrepreneurial society and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Velibor is a Montenegrin economist, recently appointed as Managing Director of his country’s first Science and Technology Park – one of Montenegro’s most significant scientific research and innovation projects. Velibor comes with extensive experience in both the private and the public sectors. Before taking up his current post, he directed Montenegro’s first business incubator and served as a director at the entrepreneurship and innovation centre ‘Technopolis’. He has also worked as the General Director of Montenegro’s biggest football club ‘Budućnost’. Velibor has worked on developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and enhancing SMEs in Montenegro, and is currently President of the ‘Center for development and entrepreneurial society’.

Karoli Hindriks
Karoli Hindriks

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

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Karoli is an Estonian entrepreneur and creator of the forward-looking global mobility company Jobbatical. 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 her native 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 speaking at notable international events. 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 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Hera is a Scottish activist, feminist and tech expert. Passionate about empowering women, she created CHAYN as a global project run by volunteers that crowdsources online resources to address gender-based violence. CHAYN has reached more than 300,000 people through its projects targeted to helping survivors of abuse. Hera is a fervent believer in the power of open source technology and open data as a tool to solve the world’s pressing issues. When she is not busy running CHAYN, Hera works with governments and civil society seeking to open data sets as a way to fight corruption.

Jonathan Petrides
Jonathan Petrides

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

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Cristina is an Italian businesswoman and social entrepreneur pursuing the world-changing challenge of bringing awareness to the impact of emerging technology. After co-founding and eventually selling her company Wish Days, she started Impactscool, a non-profit devoted to stimulating reflection and critical thinking on the ethics of the fourth industrial revolution and its new technologies. To this end, it encourages citizens to adopt a more forward-thinking approach on the true meaning of technological change. Cristina’s motto of “the future is open source” is a hint to the understanding that our future is something we have to build together. Possible future scenarios and their impacts on our everyday life were explored in her book “Welcome to 2050”.

Mate Rimac
Mate Rimac

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

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Johannes is a Swedish serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of KRY, 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, France and the UK, 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 1.1mn appointments and is set to launch in more markets this year. Long part of Europe’s start-up scene, Johannes is also the founder of a number of other initiatives including Tieday Group and Wowallets.

Diva Tommei
Diva Tommei

Founder and CEO of Solenica, inventor of smart lighting robot ‘Caia’, and 2020 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

Co-Inventor of BLITAB and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kristina is an acclaimed Bulgarian tech entrepreneur. As 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. Having cemented herself as a leader in the digital field promoting the needs of children, women and people with disabilities, her work has received wide recognition throughout the world. She was previously involved as an innovation consultant to the G7 for Technology, Research & Innovation, and was named Rising Innovator for 2017 by the EU Prize for Women Innovators.

Wietse van der Werf
Wietse van der Werf

CEO of Sea Ranger Service and 2020 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 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 and CEO of CleverBooks and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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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Continue to Selection process

Selection process

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.

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.

Selection criteria:

  • 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.

*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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