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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 24 April 2013

SoundCloud and SwiftKey win European Web Entrepreneur of the Year awards

Europe's best digital entrepreneurs are under the spotlight tonight with the presentation of the "Europioneer awards" in Amsterdam. Alexander Ljung & Eric Wahlforss of SoundCloud are European Entrepreneurs of the Year while Jon Reynolds of SwiftKey is Young European Entrepreneur of the Year (under 30 years).

The European Commission sponsors the awards as part of Startup Europe, the Commission's six-part plan to accelerate, connect and celebrate local entrepreneurship ecosystems in Europe, so that tech start-ups not only start in Europe, but stay in Europe.

45% of Europeans would like to be their own boss if they could. On congratulating the Europioneer winners, Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said "SoundCloud and SwiftKey destroy the myth that all good ideas start and end in Silicon Valley. These companies have great futures in Europe, and they show us that it's sexy and enriching to be your own boss, to create your own job."

The Europioneer awards are a partnership between the European Commission and The Next Web. 908 nominations were received from across Europe. The winners were selected by a distinguished panel of judges from Europe's tech and startup community.

About the winners

SoundCloud is a Berlin and London-based audio platform with around 40 million users. The goal of SoundCloud is to democratise music online – for it to be more than just a listening experience. SoundCloud enables anybody to upload, record, promote and share their music, soundbites and podcasts online– users have described SoundCloud as being like “email for music” or "YouTube for audio". Users can have a free basic account or pay a monthly fee for premium services. It was founded in 2008 by Alexander Ljung (@alexanderljung), who was born in the UK but grew up in Sweden, and Eric Wahlforss (@ericw) who is Swedish and also a musical artist. Alexander is CEO and Eric directs product development and overall company strategy

Jon Reynolds (27) of SwiftKey (@SwiftKey) founded the company in 2008 with fellow graduate Ben Medlock. SwiftKey is an app which makes typing much easier on touchscreen devices. By understanding how words work together SwiftKey predicts the current and next word in a sentence, saving users the effort of typing each letter. In developing this next generation of predictive text software, SwiftKey has built up a team of more than 100 staff in Southwark, central London, with offices in San Francisco, New York, Beijing and Seoul.

Background

Web entrepreneurs worldwide have an enormous impact on the economy and society.  Collectively, start-up companies create three million jobs in the US during their first year of business, a level of dynamism the European Commission would like to see matched in the EU.

The other finalists in the Europioneer Awards were:

European Tech Entrepreneur of the Year

  1. Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Victor Jacobsson, Niklas Adalberth of Klarna

  2. Mikael Hed, Niklas Hed of Rovio

  3. Michael Acton Smith of Mind Candy

  4. Jens Begemann of Wooga

Young European Tech Entrepreneur of the Year (30 and under)

  1. Daniel Ek of Spotify

  2. Hiroki Takeuchi, Matt Robinson of GoCardless

  3. Christian Reber of Wunderkinder

  4. Daniel Marhely of Deezer

The Europioneer judges are: Charles Arthur (Guardian), Mike Butcher (TechCrunch Europe), Saul Klein (Index Ventures/Seedcamp), Olivia Solon (Wired), Antti Vilpponen (Arctic Startup/Upcloud) and Werner Vogels (CTO Amazon).

More information about Startup Europe

  1. StartupEurope Leaders Club (IP/13/262) a platform for star entrepreneurs to tell their stories of inspirations and frustration, to wake-up young Europeans and leaders to the potential of entrepreneurial careers.

  2. The Startup Europe Partnership, to unlock expertise, mentoring, technology and services

  3. EU Accelerators Forum to increase awareness of the existing accelerator programs

  4. EU Crowdfunding Networks, to link up existing crowd-funding platforms, especially those specialised in Web start-ups

  5. Making Venture Capitalists more aware of Web Business by sharing success stories and through networking activities

Other European entrepreneur competitions

Tech All Stars – is a Commission-sponsored competition to find and take on tour 12 European startups. The 12 winners will network with influencers and connect with venture capitalists, mentors and potential partners. The winner will be announced at the 2013 Digital Agenda Assembly in Dublin on June 19th.

Useful links

Digital Agenda site on StartupEurope

Social Media: @startupEU and #StartUpEurope

Digital Agenda

Neelie Kroes

Follow Neelie on Twitter

Contacts :

Ryan Heath (+32 2 296 17 16), Twitter: @RyanHeathEU

Linda Cain (+32 2 299 90 19)


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