24. April 2013–
The EU Commission-backed Europioneers has revealed Soundcloud founders Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss (above) as the winners of its European Tech Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2013. Additionally, the Young European Entrepreneur of the Year Award (for 30 and under) went to SwiftKey co-founder Jon Reynolds.
Last December, the European Commission partnered with The Next Web to announce the Europioneers initiative, aimed at recognising and celebrating Europe's most innovative and influential tech entrepreneurs on a "national, regional and global level".
Today's awards announcement comes after six months of processing public votes, nominations and judge selections. The panel of judges included the Guardian's Technology Editor Charles Arthur, Wired's Associate Editor Olivia Solon and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels among others.
It's not surprising that Ljung and Wahlforss were awarded with the prestigious accolade considering Soundcloud is often seen as the poster-child for the Berlin startup scene. However, it's interesting to see Reynolds (right) come out on top after going head to head with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, 6Wunderkinder CEO Christian Reber and Deezer founder Daniel Marhely.
"The secret ingredient to innovate Europe out of crisis"
"Tech entrepreneurs are the secret ingredient to innovate Europe out of crisis. The amazing and inspiring finalists for Europioneers fill me with a lot of hope: Europe has what it takes to succeed," said European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes.
With Europe's economic doldrums, it seems the EU has finally gotten around to acknowledging the rising importance of the digital economy and impact of startups on the region's future. In addition to Europioneers, the governmental body recently launched a six-part campaign – dubbed Startup Europe – that includes a Leaders Club of star entrepreneurs intended to provide inspiration and support the startup ecosystem.
Not only that, Kroes announced yesterday in a video (see below) on her official YouTube channel that she will be embarking on a Startup Europe tour this year to promote web entrepreneurship and spread the message across the region.
For related posts, check out:
EU launches Startup Europe and Leaders Club to bolster support for entrepreneurs
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Berlin startups, calls them “yeast”
VIDEO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel shows first signs of support for Berlin startups