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The 2015 New Europe 100 is the second annual ranking of central and eastern Europe’s brightest and best people and organisations that through innovations, big ideas or social influence have changed the world or their local status quo.

The project is intended to raise the profile of world-leading innovation in emerging Europe and to build connections among those who are leading that drive.

The challengers for this year’s awards were selected by Res Publica, the Warsaw-based journal; technology company Google; the Visegrad Fund, a regional backer of arts and social projects aiming at promoting greater integration within central Europe; and the Financial Times.

Representatives from these four organisations considered hundreds of nominations from national institutions, think-tanks and the public before settling on a final list of 100. These challengers were split into the four categories below.

Society and Politics: 32 per cent of those on this year’s New 100 list

A quarter of a century after democracy returned to eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall, these public figures are shaping the politics or societies of their developing countries, often using digital initiatives. This year’s challengers include: Slovakia’s innovation-centric president; Bulgarian politician Eva Paunova, who, as one of the European Parliament’s youngest members, is spearheading efforts to roll out Europe’s digital single market; a website to report electoral violations in Belarus; and a Hungarian smartphone application to provide essential information to refugees travelling through the country.

Business: 50 per cent

Redefining central and eastern Europe as a region for innovation rather than factories and mines, these entrepreneurs or executives are either building budding businesses or taking local success to global markets. A Czech company that has built a revolutionary car for wheelchair users features alongside a Latvian company that built the best drone of 2015 and a Hungarian messaging platform.

Media and Culture: 7 per cent

Innovators using digital tools and new ideas to shake up the region’s cultural and media landscapes include a Polish funding platform that helps fans support their favourite artists, Romanian comedians training a new generation of animators, and a Bosnian website portal supporting independent news media across the Balkans.

Science: 11 per cent

From designers of physiotherapy robots to games that can reveal learning difficulties in toddlers, the region is tapping its strong tradition for technical education in developing groundbreaking scientists and inventors. This year’s batch features a Romanian astrophysicist who proved the existence of long-theorised gas filaments, a simple and inexpensive test for Ebola developed in Poland, and a Croatian professor who has designed a voice-controlled assistant for people with physical disabilities.

For the complete list and a description of the achievements of those listed in this year’s ranking, visit ne100.org. You can also join the debate #ne100 and @neweurope100.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.