Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI)

Sharon Hudson-Dean
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
YTILI Closing Conference
Berlin, Germany
April 12, 2018

As prepared

Welcome everyone to Berlin, Germany for what I know will be an exciting and productive two-day closing conference. Our meeting here is the capstone to your year-long Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative, also known as YTILI, Fellowship program, a program of lasting partnerships, innovative ideas, and new investments. I want to congratulate all of you for being selected for this prestigious fellowship and also for making the most of your experiences to help expand your startups and connect with like-minded American counterparts. I also want to thank our wonderful partner, the German Marshall Fund German Marshall Fund, the non-partisan, non-profit organization that is a permanent memorial to the Marshall Plan.

The Department of State’s Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative develops relationships among emerging European and American leaders. YTILI is an investment in the transatlantic partnership. It helps to build prosperity and security on both sides of the Atlantic. Last year, 100 young entrepreneurs, almost all of you sitting here today, came to the United States for the fifteen day Fellowship program. You traveled to Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Denver, New Orleans, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Washington D.C. I believe that the relationships and partnerships you made in these great American cities have left an impact on you and your start-ups in a positive way, and that your connections will continue to grow and expand.

I heard some of you just now pitching your startups and I have to say I am very impressed. What you have accomplished over this past year is truly special. For example, Matteo Forte from Italy, who closed the first investment round with an Italian accelerator and built a new partnership with a company in Charlotte, North Carolina. And Uve Poom from Ukraine, who was wowed during his time in Austin, Texas with PeopleSoft and has since launched Beetroot Academy's entrepreneurship and digital business skills education program in Ukraine.

As we look toward the future, the economies of the United States and Europe will depend on the enthusiasm, innovation, and skills of entrepreneurs like you. Entrepreneurship is an engine for shared prosperity and stability. It is about individuals improving their lives and communities through good ideas – both commercial ideas and social ideas - and hard work. Entrepreneurial success creates jobs, brings new products and services to market, and gives people a stake in the success of their local communities.

Since the founding of the United States in 1776, Europe has been our closest trading partner. From agriculture to textiles, and automobiles to computer chips, America and Europe have driven the global economy and global innovation. Trade between the United States and the nations of the European Union now accounts for almost half of global economic output.

Importantly, trade in the transatlantic partnership has led to the founding of thousands of companies and the creation of many innovations. One example is the mobile payment company, Stripe. Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison launched Stripe in 2010 with support from U.S. investors and PayPal co-founders Peter Theil and Elon Musk. Today, Stripe is valued at $9 billion, and I’m pleased a representative from Stripe is here today and will speak with you in a minute.

Another example is the Apple iPhone. British designer, Jonathan Ive was recruited by Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, to bring a creative, British-style approach to the exterior design of the iPod, iPhone, and other household Mac products. This creative exterior matched the American revolutionary computer technology inside and led to what we can all say are life-changing devices.

My last example is from Ukraine: the ingenious start-up Grammerly. Founded by Alex Shevchenko and Matt Lytvyn in 2007, the idea started as a University project to prevent plagiarism in papers written by students studying English. These creative entrepreneurs quickly found customers and investors in the U.S., and now have over 100 employees in Kiev and San Francisco. With over 7 million users worldwide, the company is valued at more than $100 million.

Entrepreneurship requires champions, and government support and encouragement. We are doing our part. Through the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative Fellowship, the U.S. government recognizes and supports the critical role that young European and American entrepreneurs and innovators play in spurring economic growth and investment.

I would like to recognize and congratulate the thirteen Americans joining us today. These dedicated mentors hosted you in the U.S. and plugged you into their business ecosystems -- setting up meetings with like-minded entrepreneurs, interested investors, private sector influencers, and local government officials. The connections they fostered are the best example of the strength of the transatlantic alliance.

The transatlantic community remains the bedrock of American foreign policy; it is the foundation of our shared security, our shared prosperity, and our shared values. A stable and prosperous Europe makes for a safer United States, ensures more opportunities for American business, and honors our historic cultural ties to our European partners. The United States and Europe represent the largest economic relationship in the world. Together, we have invested over $4.5 trillion in the transatlantic economy, which employs 15 million workers on both sides of the Atlantic. Those are significant numbers. We realize that lasting peace and security for Europe and America are not possible without economic prosperity that touches everyone.

The YTILI program honors our shared legacy by building ties for future cooperation and prosperity. We are committed to building and sustaining strong relationships in Europe with governments, the private sector, and the next generation of leaders and innovators.

Thank you.

And now I know we are all interested to hear from an expert transatlantic panel on the topic of: Entrepreneurship as an Economic Driver which includes the Department of State’s Special Advisor for Global Youth Issues, Andy Rabens.


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