Patrons and Special Voices

Every year outstanding personalities recognize the work of EYA Winners and congratulate them on their efforts and  engagement! Read their messages to the Winning teams!


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Congratulations to all the winners and participants of the European Youth Award contest 2015!

Your stories and achievements are a reminder of the crucial role young people play in advancing human rights, the rule of law and democracy across Europe. This year’s award showed once again how young people can help tackle some of the most pressing problems facing our societies, from high unemployment, to distrust in political institutions, to the absence of social rights in too many communities. The nominations also demonstrate how innovation and the use digital technologies can help us meet these challenges. I congratulate the winners and wish all participants the best for their future activities.

Thorbjørn Jagland

Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Young people must have their say in how society is run, their innovative ideas make valuable contributions to promote democracy and social cohesion.  Young people participate differently in democratic life today, using technologies to effect change, bring novel solutions to the challenges facing our communities.  Social cohesion is threatened by austerity measures, there is a rise in extremism and intolerance, we need their innovative ideas to meet citizens’ needs.
Young people are an asset to Europe, but the economic/financial crisis has hit them hard.  Unemployment, socio-economic inequalities, poverty and exclusion have soared.  However, this is also a human rights crisis, young people have difficulty accessing and exercising their human/economic rights: participation is undermined, faith and trust in democracy declining.
Local/regional authorities must help youth to be creative and innovative, to realise their full potential, to find their place in society, supporting entrepreneurship via funding and access to business incubators, integrating entrepreneurship into school curricula and training programmes, co-operating with businesses.
Young people can impact on society – their projects help citizens, contributing to community development, creating social capital and promoting social inclusion – and creating a stable future for themselves.

Jean-Claude Frécon

President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Today, more than ever, we must nurture the creativity and innovation of young women and men to deepen social inclusion, to advance sustainability, to strengthen peace.
This is the spirit of the European Youth Award and why UNESCO is pleased to grant its patronage once again to this initiative that inspires and supports youth change-makers to address social challenges through digital technological innovation.
As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of UNESCO, I am convinced that the voices, vision, and commitment of young women and men have never been so important. These are turbulent times, and we must do everything to empower young people for positive change, with skills and opportunities for dialogue and civic engagement. This was the also message of the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum, held at our Headquarters last month.
In this same spirit, I wish to congratulate all the participants to the European Youth Award for their commitment to the goals we share.

Irina Bokova

Director-General of UNESCO, UN Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization

The European Youth Award succeeds in an impressive manner in mobilizing each year brilliant young people to put their talent at the service of social good – with innovative solutions for inclusion, smart living and sustainable growth.
Social entrepreneurship is not only providing future-oriented social services but is also creating quality employment opportunities. In the area of social services, in particular, digital solutions and technologies are not a synonym for substituting man power but quite the opposite.
New societal challenges require innovative solution. The integration of refugees for instance will be a long-term challenge for many EU countries. Young social entrepreneurs like the winners of the EYA will certainly be instrumental in tackling this task.
One of the main conditions for young entrepreneurs and start-ups in scaling up their projects is access to finance. The Investment Package, which is an essential element of the European Commission’s growth and jobs strategy, will mobilise at least additional 31550 billion Euros in investment and can provide risk capital also for small social enterprises and start-ups.
A real digital single market would provide great opportunities for digital products and services, but it does not yet exist. This is why the European Commission has put forward a proposal to set-up a single digital market which will allow young innovators to make their products and innovative solutions known and useable without restrictions throughout the EU.

My congratulations to this year’s awardees and best wishes for the further development of their projects!

Jörg Wojahn

European Commission, Head of Representation in Austria

The European Youth Award turns the spotlight on young people with ideas and talents. The creativity and phantasy of these young  start-ups and social entrepreneurs with respect to the digital sphere is impressive and it shows the high potential they have!
It is important that children and teenagers are supported according to their gifts and talents in school and afterwards, and that they have equal opportunities. The European Youth Award motivates young people to deal with digital technologies and its social consequences and to find creative solutions.
The internet changes our world with breathtaking speed; digital natives take it for granted. The Federal Chancellery welcomes the European Youth Award and promotes the special award “social impact” for the project with the most positive social impact.
I want to thank all the people involved in the organization of the project European Youth Award 2015 and congrats to all the winners!

Sonja Steßl

State Secretary for Public Administration in the Federal Chancellery

The young people from all over Europe assembling at this year’s EYA Festival already for  the fourth time to network, discuss, and exchange know-how are the future of our continent.   Austria and Europe need more young people in engineering and science as these research-centred areas provide the solutions for the challenges of our time. My Ministry runs specific programs to promote the young generation, e.g. through the „Focus on Talent“ approach offering 3000 annual internships for pupils in innovative companies. I cordially congratulate the winners of EYA 2015 and wish all attendants of the Festival inspiring days in Graz.

Alois Stöger

Austrian Federal Minister for Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection

The young creative minds of today are our wealth and prosperity of tomorrow. Digitalisation is a major trend changing the way we live, work and participate in society. It also changes the way individual businesses work on the small scale and the way the economy works in general. I am convinced that digitalisation presents huge opportunities for every single one of us society as a whole.
We have many young, talented and ambitious as well as creative minds in Austria ready to take this opportunity. I want to further encourage our inventors, designers, entrepreneurs and researchers to continue to find new solutions benefitting our societies. The  European Youth Award offers a glimpse into the young generations’ digital tool box. We can use this digital tool-box to adapt technologies to human needs and create a win-win situation for our societies based on participatory models. I want to thank all young people engaged in this endeavour and encourage you all to continue to pursue your visions of the future.

Sebastian Kurz

Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Foreign Affairs and Integration

Young people are the most valuable asset for todays and future society. They are creative, innovative and digital natives.
I sincerely believe that it is on us to give them a chance to develop and enhance their ideas and projects. Therefore, the European Forum Alpbach and European Youth Award share the same goal: to give young people a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary encounter, networking, and civic participation.
I am amazed by this year’s winning projects and spirit of the teams. They truly show that European Youth does not only recognize problems but also accept the challenge to solve them in a very creative and outstanding way. I wish all winners a great time at the EYA Festival and stamina to continue their passionate work.

Franz Fischler

President of the European Forum Alpbach