SoundCloud founders Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss have been named the Europioneers European Tech Entrepreneurs of the Year. Europioneers is a European Commission project designed to identify and celebrate the continent’s most innovative and influential tech entrepreneurs. Supported by The Next Web, it is aimed at giving these entrepreneurial leaders better visibility on a global scale.
And it’s no surprise that Ljung and Wahlforss, both originally from Sweden but now based in Berlin, have landed the gong after emerging from a field of 908 nominated candidates. They are among the best-known tech figures in Europe and SoundCloud is one of the few startups known as a brand in the US.
The inaugural Europioneers also recognised SwiftKey’s Jon Reynolds as the Young European Entrepreneur of the Year, with the winners picked by a panel of judges including amongst others Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, Charles Arthur of the Guardian and TechCrunch’s European editor Mike Butcher.
A six-month process to find the winners began with open nominations via email, Facebook and Twitter. The final 20 nominees were then shortlisted and followed by a public voting period and a panel vote which cut the list down to 1ten nominees (five in each category). Lastly, the judges made the final selections.
The award ceremony took place on Wednesday in Amsterdam and was handed out by Neelie Kroes, EC vice president and European Commissioner for Digital Agenda. She said: “Tech entrepreneurs are the secret ingredient to innovate Europe way out of the crisis. Our Startup Europe initiative will ensure those innovators have the resources, rules and recognition they need to start in Europe – and stay in Europe. The amazing and inspiring finalists for Europioneers fill me with a lot of hope: Europe has what it takes to succeed.”
Alongside SoundCloud and SwiftKey in the top 10 were the likes of Wooga, Spotify and 6Wunderkinder. The award marks further recognition for SoundCloud, which landed the Startup of the Year gong at the German Startup Awards in January.