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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 programme was initially conceived with EuropaNova, a Paris-based think-tank.

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Meet the EYL40

Sophia Bendz
Sophia Bendz

Partner Nordic sourcing activities at Atomico, 2019 European Young Leader

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Sophia is a Partner at Atomico, where she focuses on Nordic sourcing activities. Based in Stockholm, she advises founders on communications, marketing strategies as well as on opportunities to scale up their brand. As an active player in Stockholm’s startup scene, Sophia also helps with the sourcing and the evaluation of new investment opportunities. As Global Marketing Director at Spotify from 2007-2014, she established a strong consumer brand from scratch, while launching and marketing the service globally. Today, she also serves as a Board Director at Avanza, Ink Factory, the non-profit organisation, Race For The Baltic, and the Viktor Rydberg School Foundation.

Thomas Douzis
Thomas Douzis

Founder and CEO of ERGON Foods, 2019 European Young Leader

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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.

Suvi Haimi
Suvi Haimi

CEO and Co-Founder of Sulapac, 2019 European Young Leader

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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 Kablan
Abdalla Kablan

Serial Entrepreneur, award winning speaker and academic, 2019 European Young Leader

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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 Krupinska
Marta Krupinska

Head of Google for Startups UK, 2019 European Young Leader

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Marta is a London based fintech entrepreneur, co-founder of real time pay FinTech startup FreeUp and entrepreneur-in-residence at the global GovTech firm PUBLIC.io. Having experienced first-hand the kinds of challenges that arise when attempts are made to send money home, she was previously a co-founder of a global money transfer platform Azimo which raised +$70M in funding and gained over 1 million customers. She has also received prestigious awards such as Forbes’s 30 Under 30 in Finance in 2016 and the Evening Standard’s London’s Most Influential People in 2018. Marta is a frequent public speaker and advocate for responsible leadership and diversity & inclusion.

Andreas Kunze
Andreas Kunze

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Konux, 2019 European Young Leader

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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 Loizou
Alex Loizou

Co-founder and CTO of Trouva, 2019 European Young Leader

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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 Hohan
Maria Lucia Hohan

Fashion designer and CEO of fashion brand Maria Lucia Hohan, 2019 European Young Leader

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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 Munoz
Alfredo Munoz

Founder and CEO, Abiboo, 2019 European Young Leader

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Alfredo is a global architect who has designed and managed more than six million square metres across five continents. In addition to being the youngest of the most international Spanish architects named by the Spanish media, he has also been selected for the European Center & 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). His work has been featured in media outlets such as the New York Times, Wallpaper and Domus, among others.

Daan Roosegaarde
Daan Roosegaarde

Innovator and Founder, Studio Roosegaarde, 2019 European Young Leader

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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 Sabatini
Riccardo Sabatini

Chief Data Scientist, Orionis Biosciences, 2019 European Young Leader

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Riccardo is a renowned Italian scientist and entrepreneur specialised in numerical modelling of complex system, ranging from material science, financial markets, computational genomics and drug design. In 2015 Riccardo and his lab presented an algorithm to predict common traits such as height, eye color, skin color, and even facial structure based on reading a person’s genome via a tiny blood sample. His related TED talk generated a buzz in the scientific and tech communities. Today he’s working on how to solve drug design at genomic scale with his company, Orionis Biosciences. In addition, Riccardo is deeply involved in the education of entrepreneurs. He is the founder and co-director of the Quantum ESPRESSO Foundation, a non-profit charity supporting young researchers around the globe to get involved in material science.

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Selection process

Join the 2020 class of European Young Leaders

Under the patronage of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, 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.

For examples of current and previous European Young Leaders, please refer to Annex I.

Overview of the selection process

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.

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 can either apply or be nominated for the selection process of the programme.

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