The ‘20 Under 20’ list for 2020 shows how Gen Z has turned to entrepreneurship as the COVID-19 pandemic fuels passion projects. 

The 20 most promising young founders across Europe, assembled by a high-profile panel of entrepreneurs, investors and advisors, includes nine figures from the UK, with Estonia following on five. 

Each entrepreneur will receive tailored mentoring and £1 million worth of fee-free transfers from TransferWise to take their business global. 

Overall, the competition saw an increase of 300% in applicants from last year. Almost 50% of applicants were female founders and 66% of applicants from minority backgrounds.  

Looking to build a green and inclusive future, sustainability and social entrepreneurship emerged as the key themes among the young businesses. 

Competition chairman and co-founder of TransferWise, Taavet Hinrikus, chose two overall winners who receive £12,500 prize money each for their business. 

John McElhoneof Northern Ireland, the co-founder of CropSafe. The 19-year-old and his team empower farmers across the globe with the data to make better informed decisions. By evaluating millions of weather and agricultural data points and sending actionable real-time alerts to the user’s app, CropSafe seeks to innovate 21 Century farming. 

Henri Pihelgas, of Estonia, co-founder of DeepPeat. What started as research for a school paper regarding sea contamination led to the 18-year-old building a startup looking to clean the oceans from oil spills in a new efficient and sustainable way. DeepPeat produces reusable and eco-friendly peat-based mats which absorb 5-10 times more oil than current solutions and offer to repurpose the collected oil. 

The full list


John McElhone, CropSafe
App to create alerts for farm work

Ayush Sanghavi, Ayush apps
App development, Veggie Alternatives app

Dandre Jones, Sadje Entertainment
Brain training mobile gaming creative media agency

Danielle Okine (and co-founder Princess Nwafor), the RACE network
Platform to open up the dialogue of race and culture

Joana Baptista, She.
Children’s picture books reversing social prejudice

Co-founders Katherine Terence and Shrey Parmar, MedApply
Video courses to help teens get into medical school

Kirija Kandiah, Nebula
Educational fun books for kids

Michael E. Bryan, Lugo
Parkinson’s diagnosis app

Mohammad Karim, MMK Public Speaking
Public speaking trainer


Henri Pihelgas, DeepPeat
Peat-based oil collection mats

Vladislav Virtonen, Edukoht
Coding courses for teenagers

Kevad Belle Saarepera (and co-founder Anna Kriger), Not Your Average
Superfood coffee and premium superfoods

Marilin Berg, Münt
Zero-waste toothpaste tablets

Mihkel Annus, Plyke
Revolutionizing eco-friendly production, starting with friendly-sounding bicycle bell


Jannis Dust, epap
Digital receipts

Jonas Sander, Sharezone
Innovating internal communication in schools


Melinda Szegedi, e-Fásli
Smart compress-bandage


Stein Bongers, Snapput
Affordable homework tutoring videos


Arya Yurdacan, Entella
Sea waste collector


Chunxi (Derick) GUAN, Thinkers
Sustainable development through design thinking


The judging panel:

  • Eva Maydell, Member of the European Parliament
  • Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of the Economist
  • Roxanne Varza, Director of STATION F and co-founder of StarHer and
  • Nico Rosberg, F1 World Champion and Sustainability Entrepreneur
  • Amit Gudka, Chief Energy Officer and co-founder of Bulb
  • Niklas Zennström, Co-founder of Skype and CEO and founding partner of Atomico
  • Balázs Vinnai, Chairman of W.UP and co-founder of Codecool
  • Taavet Hinrikus, Co-founder and chairman of TransferWise
  • Aimée Clint, Founder of Books by Stellas CIC and winner of the TransferWise 20 Under 20 2019