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EIT Foundation: Young leaders present innovative solutions for Europe's future

Thirty young leaders from the worlds of business, academia and research shared their inspiring ideas with policy-makers and business executives at the EIT Foundation's Annual Innovation Forum held in Brussels today.

The young professionals, entrepreneurs and students presented ideas for business opportunities in areas ranging from healthcare to energy production and market information. The EIT Foundation young leaders' programme aims to discover a new generation of talented entrepreneurs who can drive the development of sustainable innovation in the EU.
The Annual Innovation Forum was opened by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, who is responsible for the EIT. She said:

For too long policies were based on the idea that investment in research would lead to innovation. This may be a pre-requisite, but it is not enough. High quality education is key to unlocking the talent which is at the heart of innovation. I congratulate these young leaders: they are proof that Europe has talent in abundance, in the academic, institutional, research and business sectors; in social sciences, law, engineering, chemical, physics and the IT sectors. We can and must drive innovation through support for entrepreneurial, collaborative and multi-disciplinary education.

Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda, who also attended the event, added:

We need to listen to our young people. They have the drive and talent to turn Europe around and deliver a better future. I am so pleased that the EIT Foundation is providing platforms for these excellent people and their ideas.

The main theme of the Annual Innovation Forum is on how 'data-driven innovation' can benefit society and the economy. In a nutshell, more data is generated today than ever before, but Europe needs to harness the full potential of this information to address the economic, environmental and societal challenges of our time. From better delivery of public services to more efficient energy use, data-driven innovation is seen as crucial for economic growth. The young leaders, who are selected by the EIT Foundation, are following an innovation and entrepreneurship training programme which has included seminars in the UK and Belgium, as well as online sessions, with academic content provided by Imperial College London. Later this year, the Foundation will also launch a programme offering internships within its founding organisations to help young people develop entrepreneurial and innovation skills.


The EIT Foundation was established by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) in 2010 as an independent, philanthropic organisation. The first foundation created by an EU body, it is a group of like-minded organisations and companies dedicated to promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe. Its goal is to complement and increase the impact of the EIT by bringing together some of Europe's brightest minds in youth talent programmes and similar initiatives. The EIT Foundation was established by ten leading companies: Agfa Gevaert, Akzo Nobel, Alcatel-Lucent, BNP Paribas, Ernst & Young, Google, Intel Labs Europe, MOL, Solvay and the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications.
The EIT Foundation's priorities are:

  • Promoting entrepreneurial education and bridging the gap between academia and business;
  • Creating a new generation with an entrepreneurial mind-set ready to drive the development of sustainable innovation;
  • Developing an international network of talented professionals in education, research, innovation and business.

The 30 EIT Foundation young leaders are focusing on the following themes:
Healthcare and big data
Amitte Gulamhussen (Solvay, Portugal); Robert Hirt (Ernst & Young, UK); Mark Ruckebier (Vodafone, Germany); Jonathan Orban de Xivry (Universite Catholique de Louvain, Belgium); Guillaume Marcerou (Ernst & Young, France); Jeroen Melis (Agfa HealthCare, Belgium).
Higher Education and big data
Halit Ünver (University of Ulm & Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing, Germany); Nadja Dokter (EIT, Austria); Kate Hofman (UrbanFarmers and GrowUp, UK); Julia Manske (Vodafone Institute, Germany); Richard Ramsden (Akzo Nobel, UK).
Using big data for social change - energy market
Chris Woods (Intel Labs, Ireland); Tommaso Alderigi (Glint4Life, Italy); Niclas Ehn (Expektra AB, Sweden); Nina Gumzej (University of Zagreb, Croatia); Pep Salas (ENERBYTE, Spain); Hjalmar Nilsson (Black Silicon Solar, Sweden).
How to use big data for supporting start-ups
Wouter Haerick (University of Ghent, Belgium); Sebastien Petillon (Solvay, France); Jonas Vermeulen (Alcatel-Lucent, Belgium). Big data and smart city concepts Guillaume Delalandre (BNP Paribas Fortis, France); Jessica McCarthy (Intel Labs, Ireland); Peter Mechant (Ghent University and iMinds, Belgium); Romain Muller (EIT, France); Geert Ysebaert (Alcatel-Lucent, Belgium).
Big data to capture and show knowledge
Paul Docherty (Akzo Nobel, UK); Katalin Babos (MOL Plc, Hungary); Márta Dömök (MOL Plc, Hungary); Sergi Figueres (Worldcoo, Spain); Reka Tabajdai (University of Szeged, Hungary).
Speakers at today's Annual Innovation Forum also include Alexander von Gabain, Chairman, EIT Governing Board, Christian Jourquin, Chairman, EIT Foundation, Alfred Spector, Vice-President, Research and Special Initiatives, Google, Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor, The Economist, Xavier Damman, Co-Founder and CEO, Storify, and Jake Porway, founder and executive director, DataKind.
For more information:
EIT Foundation