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Explore the people and companies leading Europe’s growth in five categories

Leading individuals

These men and women are helping to promote digital transformation in Europe as leaders and influencers, both behind the scenes and in the public eye

• Nenad Bakic
Mathematician turned social entrepreneur, Nenad Bakic is trying to change the way computing and technology are taught in Croatian schools.

Bakic, who made his money from founding a series of online job sites, started by donating 25,000 microcomputers and robotics kits to more than 1,000 primary schools. This first part of the project was partially supported by a crowdfunding campaign. He later expanded the programme, with the backing of Croatia’s ministry of science and education, to every school in the country, delivering some 45,000 microcomputers.

Bakic’s non-profit organisation IRIM (the Institute for Youth Development and Innovativeness), which he founded together with his wife, has provided 500 free training workshops for teachers.

IRIM also runs a regional robotics competition, the Croatian Makers League, for schools in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. More than 1,400 schools and institutions regionally have taken part in the competition to build and program mBot by Makeblock, an educational robot kit for beginners. Winning teams receive tickets to the World Educational Robot Contest, held each November in Shanghai, China.

As for his next move, Bakic plans to expand the computer and robot programme Europe-wide.

• Ida Tin
Co-founder of fertility tracking app Clue, Ida Tin is a Danish-born entrepreneur. Her previous start-ups include Moto Mundo, a company that organises motorcycle tours in countries such as Cuba, Mongolia, Chile and Vietnam. In 2013 she founded Clue out of frustration at a lack of fertility-tracking technologies.

Clue is a free app that helps women track their menstrual cycle. Users enter data about their periods, pain, mood, fluids and sexual activity to create a personal data set. Clue recognises an individual’s pattern, predicts their cycle and flags up anything that looks out of place. Anonymised data from the app is also shared with carefully selected health researchers.

Tin quickly discovered that pitching a product that focuses on inputs such as menstruation and breast tenderness to a roomful of mostly male investors was not easy.

© Jens Gyarmaty

“It took a lot of energy,” she says. After months of touring London, New York, Berlin and Silicon Valley, however, she and co-founder Hans Raffauf raised €50,000 from angel investors. “It was crucial to have Hans there translating the idea in his way, because it was almost 100 per cent men we spoke to,” she says. “We made sure they could relate to its data and business model, but also its potential impact across their own lives through their wives or daughters.”

After a further $20m of investment, the Berlin-based app now has 10m users across 190 countries. Tin leads its 45-person team. “We are at the beginning of discovering what data can really do,” she says. “It is completely changing and evolving. We are just learning how it can be used in an ethical, helpful and secure way.”

Tin is now aiming for Clue to be the number one female health app in the world. “I believe in future we will have female technology to help us read exactly what is going on inside our bodies. We can own it and have more control to live our best lives,” she says. “All women worldwide who have a phone can benefit from technology that helps them understand female health.”

• Cheryl Miller Van Dyck
An American by birth but a Belgian resident for 20 years, Cheryl Miller Van Dyck founded the Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute to help more women reach top roles in the technology sector.

The non-profit organisation provides training in technology and leadership skills for girls as well as career-age women, encouraging them to become entrepreneurs and innovators.

Saskia Vanderstichele

The institute also organises events for women interested in becoming entrepreneurs, and runs Digital Brusselles, Europe’s first female tech incubator. Since 2012 it has been running the Ada Awards, to celebrate outstanding girls and women in technology.

Last year DLI, which is supported by both Belgian and European public sector funds and Amazon Web Services, launched an IT apprenticeship programme for women. In its first year, the programme trained nearly 100 women.

Earlier this year Miller Van Dyck received a Global Mobile Award from industry body the GSM Association, recognising her impact in increasing the inclusion of girls and women in the global technology industry.

She sits on the board of several tech start-ups, and coaches and invests in early-stage enterprises.

Leading individuals

Niklas Adalberth
Co-founder of Klarna, the Swedish online payments service. He went on to start the Norrsken Foundation in 2016, which aims to encourage social entrepreneurship.

Sue Black
Founder of #techmums, a UK initiative to teach mothers to code, who is now aiming to reach 1m mums with an online version of the course.

Anne Boden
Founder and chief executive of Starling Bank, a digital-only UK financial services institution. She was honoured this year for services to the UK’s fintech sector.

• Bernard Charlès
President and chief executive of Dassault Systèmes, the 3D design software company. Since 2015, he has been involved in the French government’s programme to digitally transform industry in France.

Daniel Ek
Founder and chief executive of Sweden-based music-streaming company Spotify, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange this year with a valuation of $26.5bn.

• Sukhi Jutla
Founder of Market Orders, the London-based business-to-business marketplace for gold jewellery and diamonds, which is using blockchain to record the provenance of gold. She is a frequent keynote speaker and a supporter of female entrepreneurs.

• Taavi Kotka
Estonia’s first ever chief information officer and the force behind turning the country into a pioneering digital nation.

Frédéric Mazzella
Tech start-up investor and founder of BlaBlaCar, the French online marketplace for car sharing, now valued at £1.2bn.

• Elizabeth Varley
Founder of TechHub, a space for tech start-ups that has expanded beyond London to cities from Bangalore to Bucharest.


Corporate digital transformations

Bigger and smaller organisations that have used digital technologies to change the way they operate

Asti Technologies
Date founded: 1982
Country: Spain

Verónica Pascual took over as chief executive of the family business based in Burgos, northern Spain, in 2006, and began a project to dramatically increase sales and expand overseas. The company had already created automated vehicles to help its customers move goods around factories and warehouses, but Pascual began to develop these further.

Asti became a European leader in making automated guided vehicles — robots that can ferry goods around industrial facilities. Asti’s driverless forklifts and trailers can move everything from single crates and pallets to loads of several tonnes, guided by magnets, lasers and sensors.

Asti became a European leader in making automated guided vehicles

In 2008, Pascual acquired all of Asti’s shares and started a process of internationalising the business, signing deals with multinationals in the wiring, food and automotive sectors and opening an international sales office in Buenos Aires. The company now operates in 16 countries and since 2011 more than half of its profits have come from international sales.

It employs more than 230 people, including a large research department. Asti works with universities and research centres, such as Germany’s Fraunhofer institute and Spain’s Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology. Asti’s Talent and Technology Foundation runs training for the company’s staff and programmes to engage young people in technology and science.

La Bottega del Calzolaio
Date founded: 1916
Country: Italy

In 1916, Luca Del Vecchio opened a shoe repair shop in a small town near Salerno, southern Italy. Nearly a century later, his great-great nephews started using online marketplaces to sell their handmade leather shoes and accessories. This revolutionised La Bottega del Calzolaio’s productivity at a time when the country’s independent businesses were struggling to stay afloat.

Orazio Del Vecchio (pictured) and his brother (also named Luca) grew up playing with leather in the family shop and became the fourth generation to take over the family business. In 2013, they set up an eBay store and increased turnover by 400 per cent in three years. The online transition was “an intuitive move to keep up with times”, says Orazio.

The online transition was 'an intuitive move to keep up with times', says Orazio © Antonio Volpe

Digitalisation not only boosted the brand’s artisanal reputation but helped to market the “Made In Italy” products overseas. La Bottega del Calzolaio’s own website has been operating since 2016, offering twice as many products as are available on the bricks-and-mortar store shelves. “It’s an ancient profession, but it can be digitised and innovated, and it’s far from disappearing,” says Luca.

Today, the 10-strong online team works across different areas from digital management, shipping and customer care to graphic design and content. Luca and Orazio still place great importance on communicating with customers, but now use technology to do so, harnessing social networks and digital channels. They also plan to open international stores.

Mycujoo
Date founded: 2014
Country: Switzerland

Welcome to the world of democratised football. On Mycujoo, any club, league or federation, however small, can broadcast their games to a worldwide audience. The online platform not only streams live matches in 100 countries across six continents but is expanding into other major sports.

For years, Pedro Presa — a lifelong fan of Portuguese football club, Boavista — struggled to find television coverage of third division matches. Top premier leagues took up most network space, leaving minor divisions, amateur leagues and women’s football with next to no air time. After doing a masters in sports management and law, he teamed up in 2014 with his brother, João, an engineer in the oil and gas industry, and founded Mycujoo.

'Our platform is 100 per cent dedicated to football and our technology allows us to do this in a user-generated environment,' says João (pictured in the black shirt with Pedro)

“Our platform is 100 per cent dedicated to football and our technology allows us to do this in a user-generated environment,” says João. For now, Mycujoo does not produce any content itself but provides a platform for 120 federations.

Partnerships with federations such as the Asian Football Confederation and Uefa in Europe have accelerated the platform’s growth, and the pair expect to have streamed 20,000 live matches in 2018 alone, up from 4,200 in 2017.

“This is just an evolution of what is happening in other industries like Spotify with music,” says Pedro. “We’re connecting directly with the consumer to build a very democratic environment, enabling the same to everyone, regardless of location, conditions or financial capacity. Together with the network providers, we can build a far-reaching global community from the Pacific islands to the Himalayas.”

The studio team in Zurich provide AI and metadata tools for their partners to add tags to their content, making match highlights easier to find and follow. “Every moment is connected to our Fifa standard unique ID database system, so every tag refers to a country, competition, club, team and even player involved in the moment,” says Pedro. If a footballer gets a yellow card or scores a goal, it is automatically collected into a lifetime passport of their player history.

Next year, Mycujoo is expanding beyond football, and is soon expected to annouce a new partnership with a leading sports federation. “With the platform and tagging technology, we are on the way to becoming the biggest football community and sport network in the world,” says João.

Corporate digital transformations

• Airbus
Date founded: 1970
Country: France
The aerospace and defence group began a digital transformation programme in 2017, including expanding into quantum computing and data-driven services.

• BBVA
Date founded: 1857
Country: Spain
The banking group has reduced operating expenses and seen huge growth in its digital customer base after investing in big data, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and blockchain projects.

• Botta
Date founded: 1947
Country: Italy
The company is a family-owned producer of cardboard packaging, making use of robotic process automation and chatbots to streamline its business.

• British Council
Date founded: 1934
Country: UK
Britain’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities has several digital initiatives, including an AI-driven English speaking app to keep up with learning demand in China.

• Di Sciascio
Date founded: 2011
Country: Italy
Revenue at this family-run construction consultancy rose rapidly after the business adopted digital technologies such as BIM automation and software development.

• Enel
Date founded: 1962
Country: Italy
The electricity provider plans to spend €4.7bn by 2020 digitalising its electricity grid and retrofitting existing power plants with new technologies such as drones, robotic process automation and machine learning.

• FarmaRegno
Date founded: 2006
Country: Italy
After taking over the pharmacy her grandfather started in 2006, Tiziana Regno turned it into an online marketplace and country-wide chain. Its products are now sold around the EU, and the company is eyeing a move into the US.

• Girteka Logistics
Date founded: 1996
Country: Lithuania
The transport company is using digital technology to manage and track its fleet of more than 8,000 trucks and trailers.

• Gucci
Date founded: 1921
Country: Italy
The luxury goods company is embracing robots and 3D prototyping in its manufacturing process.

• JPY
Date founded: 1991
Country: UK
The software company created a digital messaging hub to manage its customers, then turned it into a product to sell to others.

• Leo Pharma
Date founded: 1908
Country: Denmark
The pharmaceuticals company has built an innovation lab to create ehealth apps to help manage skin conditions.

• MKB Bank
Date founded: 1950
Country: Hungary
Two years after privatisation, the bank is building a new core IT system and using AI to tailor offerings to each client.

• Seat
Date founded: 1950
Country: Spain
The car manufacturer launched an open innovation programme at its plant in Martorell last year, inviting entrepreneurs, start-ups, designers and students to help it tackle digital challenges in manufacturing.

• Siemens
Date founded: 1847
Country: Germany
The industrial group began buying software companies 10 years ago to invest in “the industrialised internet of things”. Its Digital Factory division has become a big contributor to profits, offsetting problems elsewhere in the company.

• Telefónica
Date founded: 1924
Country: Spain
The telecoms company is expanding its capabilities to collect and analyse data, offering customers AI tools to, for example, manage their monthly mobile usage. It hopes to save €1bn by 2020 through digitalisation.

• ThyssenKrupp Elevator
Date founded: 1999
Country: Germany
The lift-manufacturer’s new rope-free elevator system, Multi, is transforming the way that buildings can be designed.

• Vodafone Global Enterprise
Date founded: 2007
Country: UK
This subsidiary, which offers IT services to big corporate clients, has improved the speed and quality of customer service by putting all operations on the cloud and introducing AI tools for customers.


New technologies and business models

Companies providing tools to help others with their digital transformation or challenging an industry sector with a disruptive business model

• Feral Horses
Date founded: 2017
Country: UK

Feral Horses aims to make owning art less elitist. The start-up runs an online trading platform on which people can buy and trade shares in works of art.

Investors can buy as little as 0.1 per cent of an artwork and then make a profit when the artwork is resold. Alternatively, shareholders can sell or exchange their shares with other users on the platform. A dashboard allows investors to track the value of their investments.

Artworks on the site can be priced anywhere between £3,000 and £50,000. Feral Horses offers the works for rent to businesses and hotels for fees of 1-2 per cent to increase visibility and to generate dividends of up to 11 per cent for the works’ co-owners.

'Habemous Hominem' by Jago

Artists make money when they sell their works to the platform. They can also retain shares in their work, allowing them to benefit if the artwork rises in value over time. Artists are selected in collaboration with art advisers and art fairs, focusing on contemporary works, including paintings, photographs and sculptures.

Feral Horses takes a commission of 10-20 per cent on sales — in an industry where dealers take an average of 50 per cent. The London-based company handles the logistics for the works, managing storage, insurance and transportation.

The platform has more than 1,900 registered users, of whom 165 have invested in a piece. So far it has had around 25 artworks for sale by 13 artists, including “Habemous Hominem” by Jago.

• UiPath
Date founded: 2005
Country: Romania (HQ: New York, US)

UiPath is trying to decrease the number of mundane admin tasks — such as filling in forms and invoicing — that office staff have to perform. The software company, founded in 2005 in Bucharest by Romanian entrepreneur Daniel Dines and Marius Tirca, creates robots which are deployed in company computer systems to emulate and execute repetitive processes like these.

This can save time and money. One European human resources company was able to automate 90 per cent of its sick leave certificate processing. It handled some 2,500 of these per month. Within six months of using the automation software, error rates fell to zero, manual effort was reduced to 5 per cent and processing time was cut by 80 per cent.

UiPath is trying to decrease the number of mundane admin tasks

Today, more than 1,500 companies and government agencies worldwide use UiPath’s tools. In April 2017, the company launched an academy for training in the use of robotic process automation. So far, more than 100,000 people worldwide have enrolled on at least one online course.

Most of UiPath’s robots are so-called attended robots, which respond to direct commands from humans — for example, through email. Often these operate through amusing security words such as “darling” or “sweetie” and will not execute requests without these triggers. Robots in a marketing company, for instance, would respond to emails that read: “Darling, please update the banners for the campaign” or “Sweetie, please give me funding stats”.The next step will be unattended robots that operate without human commands.

• Starship Technologies
Date founded: 2014
Country: Estonia

The company’s founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, were part of the original development team that created video-call company Skype. Not content with disrupting the telecoms industry they have turned their attention to the delivery sector and created self-driving robots that can transport packages.

The six-wheeled bots are designed to move along pavements at a pedestrian speed and navigate around people and objects using GPS, ultrasonic sensors, radar and cameras. Those awaiting a package can monitor the robot’s journey on a smartphone. The cargo hold is locked and can only be opened by the recipient.

The six-wheeled bots are designed to move along pavements at a pedestrian speed

The first prototype was created in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2014 and although Starship has moved its headquarters to San Francisco, development of the robots is still based in the Baltic country. Trials of the autonomous robots have so far run in more than 100 cities in 20 countries. They are in use, on a small scale, at academic and corporate campuses in San Francisco, Arkansas, Hamburg, Tallinn and Milton Keynes.

Starship’s robots can deliver food, groceries and online shopping in a 3km radius, at a much lower cost than traditional delivery services. The low-emission bots are more eco-friendly as well, the company says.

To date the company, which employs some 200 people, has raised a total of $42.2m in funding in two rounds, with the latest $25m cash injection coming from a seed round in June.

New technologies and business models

• 3D Hubs
Date founded: 2013
Country: Netherlands
Connects people to the nearest 3D printers available, shortening printing lead times.

• ABB
Date founded: 1988
Country: Switzerland
Provides robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and data to digitalise costly and dangerous tasks such as offshore oil platform work.

• AutoStore
Date founded: 1995
Country: Norway
Uses robots to maximise storage space in warehouses.

• Babylon Health
Date founded: 2013
Country: UK
Matches patients to doctors and other health professionals via a video call app.

• Booking.com
Date founded: 1996
Country: Netherlands
The online travel booking company’s customers reserve more than 1.5m rooms a night in 229 countries.

• Brainly
Date founded: 2009
Country: Poland
A crowdsourced social learning platform that allows middle and high school students to share homework help. Now available in 35 countries.

• Cambridge Cancer Genomics
Date founded: 2016
Country: UK
Uses AI to analyse cancer patients’ blood samples to assess their treatment.

• Celonis
Date founded: 2011
Country: Germany
Analyses company data such as invoices and logistics to spot and fix inefficiencies, and to automate tasks.

• Dacadoo
Date founded: 2010
Country: Switzerland
Tracks and scores a user’s health and wellbeing in real time, providing data for health insurers.

• Digi.me
Date founded: 2009
Country: UK
A platform that enables individuals to own and control their personal data and choose which companies they share it with.

• Fonetic
Date founded: 2006
Country: Spain
Develops software that analyses phone calls to help financial services companies catch rogue traders or market abuse.

• Imperial Logistics
Date founded: 1975
Country: Germany (HQ: Gauteng, South Africa)
Uses blockchain technology and the internet of things to help companies manage their supply chain.

• Klarna
Date founded: 2005
Country: Sweden
Provides ecommerce payment solutions for merchants and shoppers, including a buy now, pay later service.

• Kreditech
Date founded: 2012
Country: Germany
Uses AI to calculate credit scores for “underbanked” people (those who do not have an extensive financial history).

• Mendix
Date founded: 2005
Country: Netherlands
Offers a low-code application development platform that helps some 4,000 organisations worldwide to speed up software development. Recently acquired by Siemens.

• MOTIONrehab
Date founded: 2017
Country: UK
Uses robotics and virtual reality to help people recover from brain, spinal cord or head injuries, or illnesses such as cerebral palsy and strokes.

• OSA DC
Date founded: 2015
Country: Estonia
An AI-driven platform that passes consumer shopping data on to retailers and suppliers to help them improve their businesses.

• Raisin
Date founded: 2012
Country: Germany
One of Europe’s largest fintech investment companies, it allows savers to make deposits in any country in the EU, to take advantage of the best interest rates.

Revolut
Date founded: 2015
Country: UK
The fintech company offers free international money transfers, no-fee global spending and interbank exchange rates.

• Rimac Automobili
Date founded: 2009
Country: Croatia
Makes electric supercars that can reach a top speed of 415kph and provides drivetrains and battery systems for large car manufacturers.

• SAP
Date founded: 1972
Country: Germany
Europe’s largest software developer sells software tools and AI technology to corporate clients. It has also undergone a digital transformation with a view to doing more business online and through its app store.

• Skeleton Technologies
Date founded: 2009
Country: Germany
The first European company to use graphene to build more efficient energy storage technology. Its ultracapacitors are used in hybrid trucks, cars and buses, wind energy turbines, power grids and satellites.

• Synthace
Date founded: 2011
Country: UK
Has developed a software platform that gives researchers more control over laboratory hardware, enabling them to quickly automate experiments.

• Tradeshift
Date founded: 2010
Country: Denmark
A web-based business network and invoicing platform. It has recently rolled out a blockchain-based payments tool that can increase the speed of payments to suppliers.

• Ultrahaptics
Date founded: 2013
Country: UK
Uses ultrasound to create “virtual touch”, projecting tactile sensations into a user’s hands. The touchless technology has the potential to be used in car dashboard controls, medical treatments and industrial work.

• Wisebatt
Date founded: 2016
Country: France
A platform that allows hardware engineers to simulate the performance and operation of batteries, saving time and money in the development of prototype devices.


Technology training

Educational initiatives that are helping bridge the ‘digital divide’, often by teaching skills to groups under-represented in the technology sector

• Fundacion Cibervoluntarios
Date founded: 2005
Country: Spain

Fundacion Cibervoluntarios is a network of more than 1500 volunteers in Spain who help others learn digital skills. It can involve simply showing a neighbour how to log on to the internet, but extends to courses, lectures and workshops.

One of the aims is to alleviate the “digital divide” between different social groups, and so volunteers focus on reaching communities most at risk of digital exclusion. It works with over 500 grassroots charity associations supporting the elderly, migrants, people with mental health difficulties and the unemployed.

Fundacion Cibervoluntarios is a network of more than 1500 volunteers in Spain who help others learn digital skills

In March this year, together with the Mujeres Foundation, Cibervoluntarios launched an initiative to train 5000 women in rural Spain to help them improve their digital literacy and employment prospects. The organisation also signed an agreement with the UN Institute for Training and Research to foster citizen participation in the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Cibervoluntarios gets public funding from the EU and Spanish governments, as well as private funding from the Google Foundation.

• Kiron Open Higher Education
Date founded: 2015
Country: Germany

Ehab Kahwati, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, had an idea for a start-up to teach young people about connecting devices to the internet and controlling them through apps. He wrote twice to ShamalStart, an organisation that provides start-up funding with a proposal. Both times he was rejected because they were so poorly written.

Becoming an entrepreneur was tough, he says. People kept saying, “you’re Syrian. You can’t start a business. You can’t because you’re a refugee.” Then Kahwati enrolled to study the internet of things through Kiron Open Higher Education, a digital learning platform for refugees. After taking a proposal writing course, Kahwati was also accepted by ShamalStart to receive funding for his tech start-up, Drag IoT.

Since 2015, Kiron has been providing access to higher education for refugees around the world. Students can access courses and track their learning progress on the platform. The “Kiron Campus” caters to students from very diverse backgrounds and varying language skills.

Since 2015, Kiron has been providing access to higher education for refugees around the world © Ana Santl

Co-founders Vincent Zimmer and Marcus Kressler started with a vision of creating “university 2.0” where education could be individually tailored for each student, including refugees. “Usually [people] see university from a perspective of classrooms and buildings, and from there begin to think about how to proceed to modernise in the 21st century,” says Tobias Ernst, Kiron’s chief executive.

“We are the opposite. We see higher education from an entirely different perspective. We offer blended learning approaches, bringing people together mainly through digital platforms.”

Today, more than 3,500 students have enrolled on the platform which has teamed up with 56 universities worldwide. “We want to grow significantly in the upcoming months.” Ernst says. “Everything we wanted to put in place now works, so from here we plan to significantly upscale the numbers by the end of 2019.”

Kiron’s approach comes amid a general push by universities to offer more courses online. “We are already contributing to a systemic shift towards digital education,” Kressler says. “Germany is opening up to this tech education, and now we want to further advance sustainable development in education on a global scale.”

One disadvantage is lack of the personal contact students would get in a traditional classroom, Ernst says. To address this, Kiron has built a student forum. He says: “It’s not only about education and open access. Our students are future leaders and changemakers so it is very important to get them together. Some really want to make a difference towards societal change in their respective counties.”

Kahwati, who met his Drag IoT co-founder Amani Alawneh through Kiron, for example, hopes to return to Syria once the civil war is over, and put his entrepreneurial skills to use. “I hope, once things get better in Syria, to go back and continue my work there, creating opportunities for youth to rebuild the country,” he says.

• Rails Girls
Date founded: 2010
Country: Finland

Finland-based Linda Liukas and Karri Saarinen wanted to introduce women to web building by offering a free weekend workshop where they could learn basic programming, web development, prototyping and sketching.

The first such weekend took place in Helsinki in 2010 with help from software development firm Kisko Labs. Since then, numerous free events have been organised around Finland and the concept has spread to hundreds of cities across the world, such as Belgrade, Buenos Aires, Manila and Tel Aviv.

Rails Girls is a completely distributed movement — anyone can launch their own 12-hour free workshops © Alex Growd

Rails Girls is a completely distributed movement — anyone can launch their own 12-hour free workshops in their hometown and organise events with local sponsors.

In 2013 Rails Girls went on to inspire an award-winning worldwide fellowship programme for women and non-binary coders called Rails Girls Summer of Code. The programme is aimed at advanced beginners who would like to pursue a career in full-time programming.

Successful applicants receive three-month scholarships from July to September to work on open source project at a company, supported by a tutor. Some 185 students have gone through the programme so far.

Technology training

• Apps for Good
Date founded: 2010
Country: UK
Trains young people in digital skills and encourages them to deploy these skills for social good.

• Associazione Officine Leonardo
Date founded: 2015
Country: Italy
Teaches students of various ages and degrees about automation and robotics, as well as offering teacher training in these fields.

• Code First: Girls
Date founded: 2014
Country: UK
A social enterprise aiming to pull more women into technology and entrepreneurship by helping improve their coding skills and then finding work in the field.

• Code for All
Date founded: 2014
Country: Portugal
Runs a three-and-a-half-month coding bootcamp for the unemployed and children’s coding classes.

• Code Institute
Date founded: 2015
Country: Ireland
Teaches coding to people who want to change careers and has recently expanded to teaching refugees and asylum seekers.

• European Innovation Academy
Date founded: 2013
Country: Estonia
Offers a three-week boot camp — tapping into experts from UC Berkeley and Google — to help would-be entrepreneurs develop their ideas from prototyping through to launch and pitching to investors.

• F44 Red
Date founded: 2017
Country: Poland
A club that organises events to teach people about new technologies, software development, gaming development and cyber security.

• Fundatia Orange
Date founded: 2009
Country: Moldova
The Moldova subsidiary of telecoms giant Orange S.A. has a separate social foundation, offering initiatives like Rural Digital Inclusion to increase digital literacy in the country.

• Good Things Foundation
Date founded: 2011
Country: UK
Helps underprivileged people improve their lives with the use of digital technology, teaching skills through a network of local centres.

• HackYourFuture
Date founded: 2015
Country: Netherlands
A six-month programme to teach refugees coding and software development.

• HelPeople
Date founded: 1991
Country: Italy
Gives small nonprofits in southern Italy free training in digital technologies and moving online.

• Luxembourg Digital Skills Bridge
Date founded: 2018
Country: Luxembourg
Teaches employees the digital and technology skills they will need in their future job roles.

• ReDI School of Digital integration
Date founded: 2016
Country: Germany
Brings tech-interested newcomers together and offers them high-quality training and opportunities to collaborate with start-ups and digital industries.

• Rocketeer Enterprise
Date Founded: 2014
Country: UK
Offers technology and entrepreneurship training including delivering courses to prisoners.

• Startupbootcamp
Date founded: 2010
Country: Denmark
A bootcamp that has backed and accelerated the progress of more than 600 start-ups around the world.

• World’s Advanced Saving Project
Date founded: 2012
Country: Italy
Develops 3D printers that use eco-friendly materials, capable of building everything from orthopaedic supports to houses. It is also taking 3D printers into schools and teaching school children how to use them.

• Women in Digital Empowerment
Date founded: 2014
Country: Luxembourg
Encourages women and girls to get involved in Luxembourg’s digital sectors, focusing on teaching, networking, technical skills and building confidence.


Using technology for social challenges

Companies and organisations that are applying technology to solve community problems

• Civocracy
Date founded: 2015
Country: Germany

Berlin-based Civocracy encourages citizens to become more involved in government decisions. The online platform facilitates digital discussion on everything from transportation, education, international security and biodiversity.

A chatbot on the site can answer users’ simpler questions, while machine-learning algorithms monitor and analyse the content of discussions in order to get insights on citizens’ concerns that can be passed on to government bodies.

If the discussion generates a potential solution to a problem this can be put to policymakers. When the system was tested in North Holland, for example, 10 online citizen contributions on how to improve biodiversity in the region were included in a white paper submitted to their national government.

Berlin-based Civocracy encourages citizens to become more involved in government decisions

The platform can be used for public consultations, with founders claiming it makes such exercises twice as efficient in terms of man-hours and boosts participation by 300 per cent. A study Civocracy carried out with the French city of Lyon in 2016 showed that for every one citizen who attends a traditional town hall consultation, 74 follow a discussion on the Civocracy platform. For every citizen who stands up to speak at a town hall meeting, four would add a comment on Civocracy’s online platform.

Governments and advisory services can take out a subscription that allows them to use Civocracy to gauge public opinion on policy changes.

Civocracy operates in four European countries and has worked with over 25 different government departments in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. Recent projects include helping to develop a 10-year infrastructure plan and unified identity for the territory of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes as well as assisting Monheim am Rhein to gather citizen propositions for the town. The company is planning to expand to the US, UK and the Nordic markets.

• Fab Lab Barcelona
Date founded: 2007
Country: Spain

Imagine a future where only data moves around the world while physical materials stay put. Food, consumer goods and even cryptocurrencies would circle within city neighbourhoods using technology and 3D printing.

For five days, Fab Lab Barcelona put this concept in practice. In 2016, its team of hackers, artisans, designers and entrepreneurs transformed the Poblenou district into the world’s first Fab City prototype, showing how material flows could be redesigned against a backdrop of climate change and depleting natural resources.

Some 1,300 Fab Labs have already opened around the world since 2001, as small-scale workshops offering public access to digital fabrication. The Fab City initiative is an offshoot from the Fab Foundation, IAAC, MIT, and the Barcelona city council, looking to develop a global network of self-sufficient cities.

Tomas Diez: ‘Cities can share innovations and technology to change destructive, passive consumer habits’

“In Barcelona, we are trying to take that principle to the city scale to pioneer the Fab City initiative,” says Tomas Diez, who helped set up the Barcelona lab in 2007 and start the Poblenou project.

“The idea is that you can have a manufacturer within local communities and dramatically reduce the energy used for transportation, whilst also recycling materials back into the production line.”

Today, 28 countries, regions and cities have pledged to become a self-sufficient Fab City by 2054.

Diez says that “unlike say, smart cities, it is not competitive but a collaborative effort, where cities can share information, innovations and technology to change destructive, passive consumer habits.”

Diez and the Barcelona team are now creating the Fab City Index to measure progress towards the 2054 goal. “Unfortunately most cities right now do not measure their self-sufficiency,” he says.

‘‘The next challenge is to work on instruments or indicators — like reduced amounts of carbon emissions or waste — to measure and monitor a city’s transformation progress.”

• Open Data Institute
Date founded: 2012
Country: UK

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, artificial intelligence expert, co-founded the Open Data Institute in 2012 because they wanted to open up government and corporate data to more people. The idea was that data could be used for both business opportunities and would allow citizens hold to companies and governments to account.

“We have had an impact around the world, not only in governments but in the way that people think about the possibility of open data,” says Sir Nigel. “An open data ecosystem is not just about ethics but can be immensely profitable as well.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt co-founded ODI because they wanted to open up government and corporate data to more people © Paul Clarke

In order to persuade local governments and local businesses to run 21st century economies, there need to be more data stores that are open for all to use, he says. “It is about communication. It is about understanding data as a new kind of infrastructure.”

One strand of work is persuading private companies to share more of their data with peers in their sector and with clients.

“Companies can make data available to help them attract more customers, build relationships with their partners and make their organisation more trustworthy and sustainable,” says Jeni Tennison, the ODI’s chief executive.

The ODI also trains and educates people in modern data use. Learning how to store data, how to extract knowledge and how to then make decisions with that knowledge is crucial for governments, companies and individuals, Tennison says.

The ODI started with a five-year grant from the UK government, and soon added funding from corporations. Today, there are 60 people on the payroll.

Using technology for social challenges

• AID:Tech
Date founded: 2014
Country: Ireland
A blockchain platform for international aid. The technology enables welfare, donations, remittances and healthcare to be digitalised and tracked.

• Beam
Date founded: 2017
Country: UK
Combines Facebook-style profile pages with Kickstarter-style crowdfunding to help homeless and low-income people find jobs.

• Bloode
Date founded: 2014
Country: Greece
A nonprofit organisation based in Athens that recruits and manages volunteer blood donors through an online platform.

• Ecosia
Date founded: 2009
Country: Germany
A search engine that plants trees every time people use it. It has so far planted over 40m trees.

• Estra
Date founded: 2010
Country: Italy
Three Tuscan utility companies are collaborating to sell renewable energy and modernise the way customers access their services.

• Information Society Development Foundation
Date founded: 2008
Country: Poland
This Polish foundation helps small towns and villages access new technologies, for example by teaching people how to use the internet and by turning 4000 libraries across the country into community tech hubs.

• LCR4.0
Date founded: 2016
Country: UK
Helps small and medium manufacturing enterprises in the Liverpool City Region adopt digital technologies.

OLIO
Date founded: 2015
Country: UK
A free app that allows people to connect with neighbours and local businesses to share surplus food.

• OpenCorporates
Date founded: 2010
Country: UK
Largest open database of company data in the world with more than 165m companies, making information more transparent.

• Organise
Date founded: 2017
Country: UK
A platform that helps people in the UK start campaigns to push for a better deal at work.

• Peter McVerry Trust
Date founded: 1983
Country: Ireland
A homelessness charity created a smartphone app to track vacant housing in Dublin.

• SPEAK
Date founded: 2014
Country: Portugal
The programme from Portuguese company, Share Your World, brings migrants, refugees and locals together through an online portal for language exchanges and social events.

• Tenderlake
Date founded: 2016
Country: UK
Uses AI to give smaller companies better access to the public contract tendering process across more than 40 countries.

• Treedom
Date founded: 2010
Country: Italy
An online platform that allows donors to pay for reforestation projects around the world.

• Voluntechies
Date founded: 2015
Country: Spain
Offers virtual reality workshops for hospitalised children as well as for elderly and disabled people.

This article has been amended to show 25,000 microcomputers and robotics donated by Nanad Bakic. FF4 has been amended to F44. Mycujoo operates in 100 countries rather than 65, its Zurich team provides the tagging tools to its partners to use and its expected to annouce a partnership with a leading sports federation by the end of the year. Di Sciascio adopted BIM automation and software development. Co-founder of UiPath has been amended to Marius Tirca. Ehab Kahwati’s last name has been amended from Mena. European Innovation academy was founded in Estonia not Italy. ABB was founded in 1988 not 1998.

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