U.S. Tour Inspires European Innovators

“I feel much more confident and empowered now to take my start-up project forward,” noted one of the eight young European entrepreneurs who came to the U.S. Mission to talk about their exchange visit to the United States earlier this year.

Ambassador Gardner with some members of the Innotour group (which, despite appearances, was not all male).

In mid-February, this group – all of whom are members of the European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF) – embarked on an Innotour that took them from Washington D.C. and New York all the way to San Francisco and Silicon Valley in sunny California. The purpose of this visit was to offer them the opportunity to discover new innovative practices and experience first-hand the American spirit of entrepreneurship. One participant said his biggest takeaway was the overwhelming openness of American society to embracing new ideas, allowing change to take place, and building new things.

Over the course of 10 days, the group spoke with government representatives, think tanks, NGOs, media, entrepreneurs and innovators. They exchanged experiences and best practices and updated each other on the latest developments on both sides of the Atlantic. As we talked, they cited many examples of eye-opening experiences, and it became clear that the participants had established many new and useful contacts with U.S. counterparts. We were also pleased to hear that the people they met with in the U.S. were very eager to meet these young European entrepreneurs, and to learn about their start-up companies and about innovation in Europe in general.

Towards the end of our conversation the group, which was joined by the head of the EYIF, was pleasantly surprised when Ambassador Gardner stopped by to meet them. Smiling faces all around!

Our public affairs staff, myself included, was happy to see that this group came back from the exchange program confident and enriched with both fresh ideas and a strong determination to continue building their companies. We’re looking forward to keeping an eye on these start-ups to see how they develop!

By Dion Wierts, Cultural Affairs Specialist

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