- Frankly Speaking
- By Shada Islam
Now entering its seventh year, Friends of Europe is pleased to announce the second 20 members of the 2019 class of European Young Leaders (EYL40).
A talented and diverse group of young European change-makers, this group does not fall short of vision, passion or action. Among this first batch you’ll find an European Chess champion, a medical futurist, a British Member of Parliament, a world-renowned sculptor, and a radio personality, to name just a few.
Meet our newest Young Leaders:
Daan Roosegaarde, the Netherlands
Artist, Innovator and founder of Studio Roosegaarde
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.
Joséphine Goube, France
CEO of Techfugees
Joséphine has served as the CEO of Techfugees since 2015. A fierce lobbyist for smarter migration policies, she was selected to be part of the EU’s immigration experts group to advise on how to best the reform of visa rules for foreign entrepreneurs in Europe. In addition to these roles, as if that was not enough to keep her busy, Joséphine is also a board Member for the Norwegian Refugee Council and was nominated as one of the top ‘30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs’ by Forbes in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Prior to her tenure at Techfugees, she managed partnerships at Migreat, a London-based start-up which facilitates the movement and settlement of migrants across Europe.
Mette Abildgaard, Denmark
MP, group chair and political spokesperson for Conservative Party in Denmark
In 2015, Mette became one of the youngest individuals to be elected Member to the Danish Parliament. Representing the Conservative People’s Party, she serves as the spokesperson for healthcare, environment, climate and the Danish constitution. In 2016, she was appointed as group chair and political spokesperson, a promotion which made her the youngest person to hold this position in the history of the Conservative People’s Party. Before being elected to the parliament, Mette served as a Member of the Regional Council of the Capital Region of Denmark and worked as a volunteer for the Danish Cancer Society. In addition to these posts, Mette has served on the board of the Metropol College of Higher Education.
Joss Garman, the United Kingdom
UK Director, European Climate Foundation
Joss is currently the UK Programme Director for the European Climate Foundation. He also sits on the board of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the Board of GreenerUK, a coalition of NGOs campaigning to protect high environmental standards through the Brexit process. He previously served as chief advisor to the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, in addition to serving as Associate Director for energy & climate change at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Among the many senior positions, he occupied at Greenpeace UK, he has worked as Political Director, Head of Media, and Head of the Energy & Climate Campaign. During his time at Greenpeace, he co-founded the direct-action group, Plane Stupid, and acted as an advisor to the TUC and UNICEF.
Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Lithuania;
Chess grandmaster and MP in Lithuania
Viktorija serves as a Member of the Lithuanian Parliament for Liberalai. Given the fact that she started her career as a professional chess player, her entry into politics came about relatively recently. She was the European Women’s Champion in 2011 and is a two-time Lithuanian Champion. Her decision to undergo a career change followed her realisation that she wanted to contribute to society on a more political level. She succeeded in being elected to the parliament in 2015 and became Chair of the liberal fraction in 2018. In the parliament, Viktorija is a Member of the Committee on Human Rights and the Committee on European Affairs.
Marta Krupinska, Poland/UK
Entrepreneur, Co-Founder Azimo
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.
Gyde Jensen, Germany
Youngest female MP in the German Bundestag
Gyde is the youngest female Member of the German Parliament. She is also Chairwoman of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. Prior to these posts, she spent time working in Geneva and Washington D.C, in addition to serving as communications manager at a political foundation. She is the co-founder of the start-up network platform, ‘Kiel Starting City’. In October 2017, she was elected a Member to the German Bundestag and is the speaker on human rights for the FDP parliamentary group. Since January 2018, she has chaired the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.
Fransesca Cavallo, Italy
Author & Entrepreneur, Founder of Timbuktu Labs.
Francesca is an author and entrepreneur. She is the co-creator of ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’, a collection of 100 tales of extraordinary women that has become a publishing sensation. As the most successful new title in the history of crowdfunding, it has sold more than 3.5mn copies and has been translated into dozens of languages. Francesca’s career began in theatre, where she worked as both a manager for a theatre company and as a playwright. In 2012, she moved to California to co-found a children’s media start-up called Timbuktu Labs, Inc. Since then, she has authored nine picture books that have been translated in more than 47 languages.
Monika Panayotova, Bulgaria
Former Deputy Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council
Monika was Deputy Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU2018. She previously served as a Member of the European Parliament for the European People’s Party or EPP. Prior to that post, she was a Member of the Bulgarian Parliament, a Chairwoman of the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds and a member of the Foreign Policy and Defence Committee. Before starting her political career, Monika worked for an NGO and spent time as a research fellow at the Economic Policy Institute in Sofia.
Marko Pavić, Croatia
Minister for Labour and the Pension System in Croatia
Marko is the Minister for Labour and Pension Scheme in Croatia. Before entering the world of politics, Marko dedicated his time to physics and oceanography. After finishing his studies, he travelled to Antarctica to study climate change developments. Among the various high-level positions he has held over the years, Marko has worked as an Independent consultant for EU project development and has been involved in numerous organisational and educational development programmes.
Miguel Pina Martins, Portugal
CEO and Founder Science4You
Miguel is responsible for founding the toy company, Science4You, which develops, produces and sells scientific toys that have been awarded on the basis of their scientific merit, in addition to their innovation and usefulness in teaching environments. Miguel founded the company in 2008 at the age of 22 when he was still a student. Since then, Miguel has collected several individual awards (as well as collaborative ones) like the Entrepreneur of the year award from the European commission in 2010 or the Business Internalisation Award in 2013, granted by the British Government. In 2015, Science4you was awarded by the Portuguese President with the Order Entrepreneurial Merit’s medal.
Sophia Bendz, Sweden
Partner at Atomico
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.
Alex Loizou, Cyprus
Co-founder and CTO of Trouva
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 $13.8mn 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.
Eva De Roo, Belgium
Eva de Roo is a radio host for the Belgian national radio station Studio Brussel. Music had always been a constant in her life but it was only after getting a degree as an interpreter English-French that she decided to follow that passion. She had her first experience as a radio personality under the cover of darkness during “The Wild Bunch”, the late-night incubator for Studio Brussel’s young talent. Today, only 5 years after this first appearance, she has an eponymous prime-time radio show and has co-hosted “The Warmest Week” – Belgium’s biggest annual charity fundraiser, raising 17million last year – four times in a row. Combined with her career as a voice-actor, DJ and MC at music festivals, this has turned her into one of Belgium’s booming all-round media talents.
Annalisa Camilli, Italy
Investigative journalist specialising in immigration
Annalisa is an Italian journalist credited for drawing attention to a wide variety of social issues. Currently working for the news magazine Internazionale, her articles have extensively covered immigration in Italy and Greece as well as human rights and gender inequality across Europe. Having previous experience at Associated press, her stories regularly underline the hardships endured by migrants while crossing the Mediterranean as well as their treatment once in Europe. She is the winner of the 2017 Anne Lindt journalism award for her investigation “The boat without a name” for which she has spent six months investigating the deadliest shipwreck, searching the 28 survivors who are now living all over Europe. She is also a regular contributor to international news outlets such as the Washington Tribune and Politico.
Serge Wilmes, Luxembourg
Member of Parliament
Serge is a Luxemburgish MP for the Christian Social People’s Party. Originally interested in the fields of history and European society, Serge briefly worked for the national archives before quickly making his way into politics first as a parliamentary advisor and then an elected official from 2011 onwards. After being elected chairman of the Young Christian Socialists (Jeunesse Chrétienne-Sociale – CSJ) in 2008, Serge Wilmes went on to become chairman of the CSV for Luxembourg City in 2016. Since 2017, he has held the office of First Deputy Mayor (premier échevin) of Luxembourg City, overseeing urban development, architecture, information technology, commerce and tourism.
Luke Graham, the United Kingdom
Member of Parliament
Luke is a MP for the Conservative Party and a recently appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Cabinet Office. Before entering politics, Luke’s interests lied with finance and he worked in the private sector as an accountant for over a decade. Upon returning from five years abroad in China, Thailand and the United States, he campaigned for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom. He also notably took on the role of finance director for Stronger In, the official remain campaign during the Brexit referendum. In the House of Commons, Luke is a member of the Finance Committee and previous member of the Public Accounts Committee for the House of Commons.
Julia Hanzl, Austria
Julia is a sculptor producing a variety of independent work as well as numerous commissioned pieces. These include urn designs for Bestattung Wien (Vienna funeral service) and a life-size graveyard angel made of bronze for a Viennese crypt. Julia regularly collaborates with artists and gallery owners, creating exhibits showing video and photographic visualisations of her sculptures as well as a glass version of her sculpture “Who killed Smiley?”. She also works with a German jewellery-maker, turning her ideas into pieces of jewellery. In 2014, she was named one of the most important figurative artists worldwide, a recognition which led two of her sculptures to be included in the art book “500 Figures in Clay” (Lark Crafts/New York).
Martina Vuk, Slovenia
Secretary of State for the Slovenian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport
Martina is currently the Secretary of State for the Slovenian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. Having long been interested in politics, she began her political career by participating in the Young Democrats Forum towards the end of secondary school. This formative experience led her to pursue and obtain elected office at both the local and national level. At the Slovenia National Assembly, Martina has actively participated in the parliamentary group responsible for the fields of work, family, social affairs, health and human rights. For the past four and a half years, under two Governments, she worked as a state secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. As a Council of Europe-certified human rights trainer, she has worked with various non-governmental organisations to promote human rights and gender equality.
Bertalan Mesko, Hungary
Physician and Founding Director of The Medical Futurist Institute
Bertalan is a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in clinical genomics who designed his own profession of “medical futurist”. Struck by the challenge of filtering correct and reliable medical advice online, he founded the blog The Medical Futurist, where he covers technological developments before they get to market along with the possibilities and ethical challenges they present. Today, he has over 3 million readers and is seen as an internationally recognized leader in digital health. Bertalan has given over 500 presentations, including courses at Yale, Stanford and Harvard University as well as the Future med course organized by the Singularity University at NASA. Furthermore, Bertalan was featured by dozens of top publications, including CNN, the World Health Organization, National Geographic, Forbes, TIME magazine, BBC, and the New York Times.
Click here to view the first 20 names of the EYL40 Class of 2019!
Led by Friends of Europe, each year the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme brings together talented, established leaders, aged 40 and under, who have made their mark in a wide range of fields such as politics, science, business, media, NGOs, the arts and civil society. You can find more information about the programme in the EYL40 overview. The programme was originally conceived with EuropaNova.
- Area of Expertise
- Asia, Africa & Emerging Economies
- Europe's World
- By Shada Islam & Amanda Rohde
- Europe's World
- By Nathalie Smuha