About

This year’s EYL40 Class of 2023 includes award-winning investigative journalists, a mega-star of modern-day football, politicians from all levels of government and speakers of national parliaments, a male supermodel and philanthropist, renowned scholars, innovators leading the green digital transition, as well as creative tech-based healthcare professionals. Follow along as we reveal the new class on LinkedIn and Twitter from 31 January to 10 February!


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 Andrea Barber Lazcano
Andrea Barber Lazcano

Co-Founder and CEO of RatedPower and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Andrea Barber Lazcano is a Spanish entrepreneur and champion of sustainable energy. As the Co-Founder and CEO of RatedPower, she leads the sustainable and energy-efficient design and construction of solar photovoltaic (PV) plants. The award-winning, cloud-based software company’s pvDesign is a game-changing technology that has transformed and revolutionised traditional engineering through optimisation and automatisation in order to improve the performance and profitability of solar PV plants. Barber Lazcano is on a mission to accelerate the energy transition by contributing to the widespread use of solar energy, reducing CO2 emissions and increasing the competitiveness of sustainable energy worldwide, with plans to expand beyond the solar sector and into the wind and storage sectors. A champion of female entrepreneurship, Barber Lazcano also hosts the Vostok 6 podcast, which gives visibility to the stories of trailblazing women, in order to inspire and empower listeners.

Photo of Daumantas Dvilinskas
Daumantas Dvilinskas

Co-Founder and CEO of TransferGo and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A serial entrepreneur and fintech expert from Lithuania, Daumantas Dvilinskas is the Co-Founding CEO of TransferGo, a London-based, high-growth and purely digital global money transfer service. Its innovative digital ‘local in, local out’ business model works with banks worldwide to enable cheaper, faster and safer cross-border money transfers. TransferGo’s main goal is to increase the accessibility of transfers to migrant workers, who make regular payments to their families back at home, by reducing costs and facilitating same-day purchasing power. Dvilinskas challenges monopolies in the banking industry by targeting niche customers with a superior product experience. He has also co-founded Pinevio, a social content discovery platform that enables users to discover content from people with shared interests. Dvilinskas is a recipient of the Global Lithuanian Award, which is bestowed upon Lithuanian diaspora professionals in recognition of their contribution to the economy, science, culture and international presence of Lithuania.

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Laurent Hublet

Co-Founder and Managing Director of BeCentral and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Nicknamed ‘the philosopher of tech’, Laurent Hublet is a Belgian entrepreneur, who champions investment in human capital and skills as a means to strengthen the social pact between the public and the government. He founded BeCentral, the largest tech campus in Europe in terms of the number of people (re)trained, with the belief that every citizen, regardless of their age, gender, colour or culture, should have the opportunity to become a digital native and an actor of the digital revolution. An angel investor in over 15 digital start-ups, Hublet is also behind the We Are Founders programme, which assists non-entrepreneurs in launching start-ups. In the academic arena, he is the Co-Academic Director of an executive programme at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, which focuses on responsible and ethical approaches to management. Hublet has previously served in the cabinet of the Belgian deputy prime minister and advised on the digital strategy of the federal government.

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Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou

Co-Founder of Velocity.Partners Venture Capital and Found.ation, and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou is an entrepreneur and investor from Greece, who currently works at the intersection of technology, culture and new media. He is the Co-Founder of Velocity.Partners Venture Capital, a pre-seed and seed venture capital fund that currently maintains a portfolio of 22 companies with a presence in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific. As a General Partner, he assists tech companies with the development of disruptive products and services. The fund was born out of Kalavros-Gousiou’s other company, Found.ation, a start-up hub and educational platform that seeks to enable innovation through digital technologies, new business models and cultural shifts. He also founded TEDxAthens, one of the world’s first TEDx events. Kalavros-Gousiou previously worked for HackFwd, a Hamburg-based early-stage fund, where he led the pre-seed investment firm’s pipeline in Greece and south-east Europe.

Photo of Gunita Kuļikovska-Ķiesnere
Gunita Kuļikovska-Ķiesnere

Founder of the New Building School at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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An architect by trade, Gunita Kuļikovska-Ķiesnere is a leading Latvian voice of the sustainable construction revolution. She founded the New Building School at the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, which focuses on sustainable and smart construction, timber construction and eco-building, to combat outdated construction practices and encourage a significant paradigm shift in the construction industry. Kuļikovska-Ķiesnere is also the Founder of Vividly App, which operates at the intersection of tech, architecture and urban planning. The company harnesses the power of data, 3D modelling and virtual reality simulations to assist development processes and also contributes to educational and cultural initiatives that work with young people as part of its social responsibility activities. Additionally, Kuļikovska-Ķiesnere gives lectures on digital transformation at the BA School of Business and Finance, mentors various hackathons and leads workshops for young entrepreneurs.

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Kristjan Maruste

Co-Founder and CEO of Kõu Mobility Group and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kristjan Maruste, husband and father of three, is an Estonian mechatronics engineer by training and entrepreneur by profession. He founded Äike, a global e-scooter company, to reimagine micro-mobility by building safe, sustainable and emission-free mobility solutions. Having created the first USB-C chargeable e-scooter, Äike is also the first and only company that designs, manufactures and fully assembles its e-scooters in Europe. Championing sustainable practices, Äike opts to use recycled materials to construct its products and 70% of its supply chain comes from within a two-hour drive of its factory in Tallinn. Maruste is also the Co-Founder and former CEO of Comodule, an Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity provider that was among the first to connect light motor vehicles to the internet. Both companies belong to the Kõu Mobility Group, of which Maruste is a Co-Founder and the CEO. He has also previously pursued entrepreneurial ventures in battery design, engineering and manufacturing, as well as electric racing cars.

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Žan Menart

Co-Founder and CEO of Smart Optometry and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A Slovenian entrepreneur, Žan Menart recognises the potential of scientific and technological advances to positively impact quality of life. Faced with the knowledge that half of the world’s population will have serious vision problems by 2050, Menart co-founded Smart Optometry to develop digital software solutions for eye diagnostics and vision therapy, including examinations, therapy, health monitoring and damage prevention. By adopting a non-traditional approach to eye care and health, Menart oversaw the development of AmblyoPlay, a software-based vision therapy solution that provides at-home therapeutic games and exercises for children with medical eye conditions. The novel interactive gaming software now helps protect and improve the eye health and well-being of thousands of patients worldwide from an early age. Under Menart’s leadership, Smart Optometry has also developed the first-of-its-kind interactive app for eye screening and testing to provide simple, fast and precise diagnostics.

Photo of Pia Henrietta Moon
Pia Henrietta Moon

Co-Founder and CEO of Carbo Culture and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Pia Henrietta Moon is the Co-Founder and CEO of Carbo Culture, a climate technology company on a mission to remove one billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually. Carbo Culture removes carbon by converting CO2 from plant waste into a stable form of carbon, also generating renewable energy and carbon credits in the process. Carbo Culture’s breakthrough carbon removal solution solves key scalability challenges of the carbon removal industry. Her prior experience includes growing two organisations in ed-tech: Mehackit, which provides creative technology courses for youth to experience building technology, and Rails Girls, a global non-profit that organised open-source weekend workshops for women to dive into the world of technology. Given her management expertise, Moon was the youngest board member of a publicly traded company in Finland, YE International. Named a Bloomberg New Economy Catalyst, she is also an alumna of Stanford’s StartX founder community.

Photo of Tahereh Pazouki
Tahereh Pazouki

Founder of Magrid Learning Solution, CEO of LetzMath and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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An Iranian-Luxembourgish entrepreneur, Dr Tahereh Pazouki founded Magrid, a pedagogical programme that develops and improves cognitive and math abilities by removing language as a barrier to learning, in order to support equal educational opportunities for all learners. The award-winning project was inspired by Pazouki’s research on children with migrant backgrounds and language disorders in Luxembourg’s public school system, which concluded that adapted training can support children who are disadvantaged by an education system in reaching their full potential. The Magrid programme now helps thousands of students in schools across Luxembourg and Portugal with early childhood development in math, visual-spatial and cognitive abilities. It will soon be available for parents all over Europe. Pazouki also founded a start-up, LetzMath, to continue the research and development of educational solutions that champion equal opportunities. In recognition of her innovative contributions to the field of education, she has been the recipient of the World Summit Awards, the European Investment Bank’s social innovation prize, the Creative Young Entrepreneur award and the MIT Solve award.

Photo of Paweł Radziszewski
Paweł Radziszewski

Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Nevomo and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Paweł Radziszewski

A Polish aerospace engineer with a passion for disruptive technologies, Paweł Radziszewski is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Nevomo, a deep-technology company that is developing the next generation of high-speed and freight railways. Radziszewski is responsible for the product, technical and intellectual property strategy, and system-level projects supervision. Committed to the sustainable development of the mobility industry, Nemovo is the first company in the world to propose the phased implementation of hyperloop-inspired solutions for railways. Having led the development of Nemovo’s MagRail system that enables magnetic levitation vehicles propelled by a linear motor to operate on existing railroads, Radziszewski plans to take the technology further by developing hyperloop subsystems for the future market and applying the technology to other areas of the industry. He has won several international technology competitions, including the SAE Aerodesign West and Shell Eco-marathon, and is a two-time finalist of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition.

Photo of Tiago Sá
Tiago Sá

Co-Founder and CEO of Wisecrop and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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An engineer and social entrepreneur from Portugal, Tiago Sá is the Co-Founder and CEO of Wisecrop, a web-based operating system on a mission to support the productivity, sustainability and efficiency of farm management through the use of technology. Wisecrop provides farmers and other agricultural professionals with integrated, real-time data related to the weather, irrigation, soil nutrition and fertilisation, crop health, as well as field and labour operations and costs, in order to maximise field profitability and reduce the negative environmental impacts of agricultural practices. Recognising the challenges of digitalising a sector that is traditionally slow to adopt change, Sá combines environmental and business incentives to unlock disruptive tech solutions, while also ensuring that Wisecrop features a simple and user-friendly interface. Since its inception over seven years ago, Sá has overseen the company’s growth to assist over 60k hectares of more than 250 different varieties of crops, with plans to push for the modernisation of the agri-food industry across Europe.

Photo of Tijana Tamburic
Tijana Tamburic

Co-Founder of Female Narratives and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A Serbian storyteller and entrepreneur, Tijana Tamburic is the Co-Founder of Female Narratives, a London-based but globally affiliated creative agency and collective of freelancers that connects brands to real women with real stories. Tamburic was a model herself, signed to one of the world’s top agencies for nearly a decade, but decided to pursue something new in order to work collaboratively with women, rather than in competition with them. Female Narratives has created campaigns for female-led or ethical companies, such as Bumble, Allbirds, The North Face, Merrell and Kiehl’s, and is now composed of over 100 female and non-binary creators, from models and artists, to wordsmiths and choreographers. Tamburic also hosts The Vulnerability Challenge podcast, in which she sets monthly challenges and brings listeners along her journey of vulnerability. Notably, ‘When My Masculine Met My Feminine’, her TEDx Talk on the perceived boundaries of femininity and masculinity, has over 36,000 views.

Photo of Katharina Unger
Katharina Unger

Founder and CEO of Livin Farms and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Katharina Unger

Katharina Unger is an Austrian thought leader in sustainability, food and agricultural innovation. Following the success of her first project, Farm432, which was designed to rear the black soldier fly larvae and won the Red Dot Design Award, she founded Livin Farms, a company that turns organic food waste into valuable insect protein. Her fascination with home insect farms began while researching the impacts of factory farming and industrial meat production. Unger believes that a designer must observe the world on a systems level in order to create impact through physical or strategic inventions. She has been awarded the BraunPrize Sustainability Award, the Bio Art & Design Award and the Core77 Design Award, among others, in recognition of her work to identify novel sources of protein and fertilizers. Unger was also named among the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Europe.

Photo of Maria Vircikova
Maria Vircikova

Co-Founder and CEO of MATSUKO and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Maria Vircikova

A tech innovator and entrepreneur from Slovakia, Maria Vircikova specialises in machine learning and human-computer interaction. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of MATSUKO, which aims to revolutionise everyday communications through a 3D hologram connection based on mixed reality. The world’s first real-time app for holographic presence, MATSUKO allows users to embark on a holographic experience through the use of smartphones and mixed reality glasses. Inspired not only by technology, but psychology and sociology, Vircikova believes that artificial intelligence can be used as a human-centric tool to meaningfully connect individuals, rather than fracture communities. Prior to embarking on this entrepreneurial endeavour, Vircikova performed research at the Technical University of Kosice’s Center for Intelligent Technologies, where she also taught classes on AI, humanoid robotics, human-robot interaction and service robotics. In recognition of her expertise and accomplishments, she has also notably been awarded the European Tech Women Award.

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Selection process

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS/NOMINATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2024 IS NOW OPEN

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 1984).
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK, Ukraine 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, usually scheduled for March and September.

Please click HERE for the Selection Guidelines 2023 that will give you an idea of the process. The detailed Selection Guidelines 2024 will be made available shortly for download.

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

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