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!


2017  |  2016  |  2015  | 2014  |  2013  |  2012

Many congratulations to this year’s winners and nominees for the European Youth Award. This competition showcases the extraordinary wealth of talent and innovation among young people.

This year’s entries demonstrate active commitment to safeguarding the Internet as both a tool and a public space for the promotion of democracy and human rights.  In 2017, it is vital that we stand up for these values online and offline and find innovative means to do it.

The Internet is a shared space that can only benefit from democratic participation. The ethical, meaningful, and structural involvement of our younger citizens will help forge the open and democratic societies from which they stand to benefit most.

The Council of Europe’s No Hate Speech Movement demonstrates the success of this approach. This is a campaign initiated and led by youth representatives in Council of Europe member states. It has mobilised youth activists and many others against hate speech and for human rights across Europe, and has consistently raised awareness of the impact of hate speech on young people. I hope you are as inspired by our youth campaign as we are by your commitment and creativity. Congratulations once again!

Thorbjørn Jagland

Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, Council of Europe

I am very happy indeed to renew my patronage to the European Youth Award 2017 on the occasion of  its 6th jubilee year. This annual event is an opportune moment for me to encourage the work of young people who are creating digital projects that have an impact on society on the one hand, and to remind local and regional elected representatives that the participation of young people is essential for local democracy, on the other. Their voices must be heard to generate a more inclusive society in which the empowerment of youth is inextricably linked with the use of social media and related digital technologies. Digital innovation can be a strong engine for improving local governance, with the power to transform cities into more democratic spaces.
Let me ensure you that the Congress will remain strongly committed to promoting youth participation at the local level.

Gudrun Mosler-Törnström

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

Young entrepreneurs are full of potential, thanks to their creativity, energy and enthusiasm. They are shaping the ongoing digital revolution.
That is why the European Commission fully supports entrepreneurship and social innovation. There is no better investment than in people’s skills and talents. In 2016, we launched a Skills Agenda with ten key actions to develop people’s skills across Europe, on which we will have delivered by the end of this year.  And we are making European financing more accessible to help people get their ideas off the ground. Our European Pillar of Social Rights – our framework to make our employment and social policies fit for purpose for the changing world of work in the 21st century –  puts supporting innovative forms of work and entrepreneurship high on the agenda.

We want to see many more promising projects and start-ups like we have seen in this year’s Award, contributing to an economically and socially strong Europe. Congratulations to the winners!

Marianne Thyssen

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, European Commission

The European Commission’s representation in Austria is partner to the European Youth Award (EYA) festival in Graz. We appreciate the pan-European spirit of young entrepreneurs working on digital projects which will make the EU and society a better place. Their work combines business opportunities with social objectives. As sometimes financing is an issue of concern for innovative firms and start-ups the investment plan #investEU could offer chances. At the opening ceremony on 29 November our expert Marc Faehndrich will be present and shortly explain how the European Commission and the European Investment Bank support digital innovation, growth and jobs in Europe. So far, the EU Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) has triggered € 240 bn in investments.

Jörg Wojahn

Representative of the European Commission in Austria

Young people perceive their environment differently from adults. Young people have their own needs and wishes, and: Young People are experts on their own matters and know best what they need and what they consider right for themselves . Therefore initiatives like the European Youth Award are essential in making the potential and talents of young people visible to society at large.

This is particularly true of the issue of digitalization and other future technologies. Young people of today are already involved in this field from a very early age on, often even teach the older generations 😉 – and should therefore be at the core of future-oriented policy-making in Europe.

That is why the European Youth Award (EYA) offers an eminent platform for young talents to improve their innovation skills, to present their expertise and to convince others with their compassion.

On behalf of the European Parliament I would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners and nominees. Let me also thank all participants for being so creative and encouraging, and for developing your ideas and proposals, working for solutions. That is what our common Europe needs nowadays!

Ulrike Lunacek

Former MEP (The Greens/EFA, Austria) and Vice-President of the European Parliament

Innovation is one of the key challenges of today’s society. But innovation has, as most of the things, two sides to every coin. Innovation implies risks and threats for society as well as to improve it and make it more comfortable for all of us. The European Youth Award and over all the special award for the highest social impact is working on the latter one. We are proud of these young and innovative people who participated. At the same time we hope that this award encourages more digital natives to use their talent for creative solutions in order to improve our society.

What is true for innovation is of course even truer for digitalization. The impact of digital technologies on our daily lives and realities cannot be underestimated. New technologies bear the potential to change our economic system and our society fundamentally. We want to shape the digital world actively and foster positive developments. Digitalization is not only a technical and economic issue; it is also a very political. Digitalization should create prosperity, improve participation and the distribution of possibilities and a higher quality of living for all of us.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Muna Duzdar

State Secretary for Digitalization, Federal Chancellery Austria

The use of digital technologies got quite common during the recent years. It is up to the young generation to deal with the future challenges like, sustainability, education, employment, social cohesion, health care, cultural diversity, climate change and water management in a new way.  

The EYA competition is unique in motivating and giving young people the chance to create ideas improving our life by using social media. This competition is an incentive and an important platform to present smart solutions for these complex challenges. I very much appreciate that most of the categories, not only the category „Go Green“  and the new category “Water”, present innovative projects dealing with sustainability and environmental issues. I want to thank all people involved in the organization of EYA. Furthermore I want to congratulate all the winners and wish them all the best for the future.

Brigitta Litschauer

Directorate EU Coordination Environment, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management

For six years, the European Youth Award has been a huge proponent of the use of digital innovation to overcome the wide variety of issues and challenges we face. I am very glad that this eminent pan-European contest for young people, start-ups and social entrepreneurs continues to grow as awareness about the need for digital innovation gets bigger in our local and international communities.

I am convinced it is unequivocally necessary that – in Austria and Europe – we evolve and educate our people in digital innovation to maintain a strong place as a world leader in the digital economy.

Now more than ever, it is apparent that we live in a digital society that is not slowing down anytime soon. In Austria, we need individuals who are interested in innovation, invention, design, and all around digitally creative minds to tackle the numerous challenges we face in this digital age. In every area of life, in Austria and the European Union, we need to re-think, analyze, and ask ourselves: how can we improve in digital innovation that creates a positive social and economic impact?

In order to deal with globalization and digitalization, the Austrian government has recently adopted an Open Innovation Strategy. Our society should be a leader in and enthusiastic about new and creative ideas, as well as one that reaches across borders and different areas of public life to find creative, digital ways to improve. OPEN AUSTRIA launched by the Austrian Foreign Ministry in partnership with the Austrian Economic Chamber has been working efficiently via its local presence in Silicon Valley.

We welcome the Strategy for the Digital Single Market – a timely proposal to realize the enormous potential of the digital technologies and to remove existing barriers. We argue for the right economic framework, a high level of protection for consumers and for inclusion of persons less well acquainted with digital. Respect for fundamental and human rights and for data protection commands the highest priority.

Among the priorities of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is a digital Europe and the free movement of data. We totally share the point of view that Europe must exploit the benefits of the technological progress that is resulting in constant change for citizens, businesses and governments. As member of the trio of EU presidencies together with Estonia and Bulgaria, Austria is contributing to finalising work on the different initiatives and actions of the Digital Single Market (DSM).

I congratulate the winners of the European Youth Award 2017 for their inspiring creative projects, and thank them for their contribution to improving our society. Their commitment helps us reaching  our common goals.

Sebastian Kurz

Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

The world has never been more universally networked. The digital revolution has transformed all areas of life and businesses and will continue to do so. Digitisation, although demonised by some, is one of the strongest accelerators for growth and productivity in our society.
Especially within the European Community we have to proactively seize and make use of this once-in-a-century opportunity. The commitment towards it of our youth and of course of the participants in the EYA Festival is inspiring and will pull circles. Yes, we can shape digital transformation! Let’s stay at it with enthusiasm and hard work.

Hans Jörg Schelling

Austrian Federal Minister of Finance

The EYA has been, and still is, a catalyst driving young people to expand their creativity and create change through digital media outlets. The festival gives opportunity to network, exchange ideas and learn from some of Europe’s leading creative experts. Our continents’ innovative power lies in its talents and creative minds.
The EYA, as well as my ministry, are dedicated to support innovation. Young people are our future, and the future is now. We have to encourage the use of creative digital platforms in order to find practical solutions to complex challenges of our time. That’s the aim of EYA. I want to cordially congratulate the winners of EYA 2017 for their ingenious projects and wish all festival attendees a fruitful time in Graz. Allow yourself to be inspired.

Jörg Leichtfried

Austrian Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology