The NextGen Hero award category at the Digital Economy Awards honours exceptional talents under 25 years of age. These personalities show the inspirational potential of the young generation to actively shape the digital future of Switzerland.

The category was launched last year, through a collaboration between swissICT and digitalswitzlerland. One of the key elements to the NextGen Hero award is to inspire young people to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics to secure Switzerland’s role as a leading digital hub. Candidates can apply online themselves, or can be nominated. There is the choice to send a short written recommendation, or a 90-second video in German, French or English. Participation is free of charge and applications are open until July 30.

Adding further excitement to the awards celebrations this year, NextGen Hero is integrated into the Digital Economy Gala Night, with winners announced at the Hallenstadion in Zurich on 11 November 2021, as the closing event of Digital Day.

 Digital Economy Awards Gala

Meet NextGen Hero winners: 2020

David Yenicelik, Co-Founder of SkillLab and Chloé Carrière, a Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship student at the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne and host of The Galactic Chloé Show were crowned the winners at last year’s Digital Day.

David Yenicelik

Before SkillLab, David Yenicelik was a key member of Swissloop, which made it into the top three at Elon Musk’s International Hyperloop Pod Competition twice. At SkillLab, he uses deep tech, including artificial intelligence and machine learning to benefit society. His team works to empower people to progress their careers by uncovering hidden skills. We asked David how the company is continuing to innovate and about changes to the digital landscape.

image of David Yenicelik

The rapid digitization of society triggers tectonic shifts in labour markets. An inclusive economic recovery is crucial to empower people to acquire digital skills and find new pathways to employment.”

For David, this mission pushes SkillLab to connect people to the training and education that closes their personal skill gap to a job. He concludes that the Digital Economy Award accelerates such projects at large, not only as a quick and scalable response to the novel environment created through pandemic, but also to societal issues at large long thereafter.

Chloé Carrière

image of Chloé Carrière
Image courtesy of Valentin Flauraud

It has been another year of pushing boundaries for Chloé Carrière. Describing herself as a ‘space leader’, Chloé combines her passion for astronomy and incorporates multiple disciplines and science formats, such as physics, ICT and maths into engaging activities that make science accessible.

In her opinion, digital trends challenge us to innovate and develop new opportunities. With the Galactic Chloé Show, she wishes to welcome more guests from the scientific community and develop her journalistic skills. Chloé has also been busy with new innovations since winning last November.

“We will propose a new virtual SciComm tool to be presented at the Japanese Olympic Games and the Dubai Universal Exposition. We are very excited to present this new digital project to the world!”

Chloé is also the creator of the EPFL student association Space@yourService, which is currently working on ‘Mission Asclepios’, a simulated analogue student-led space mission on another celestial body, due to take place this summer. Chloé wishes to be one of the first women to step on the moon and to contribute to the future of space exploration.

quote from winner Chloé

A word from the jury

The task of choosing the NexGen Heroes is no mean feat and the awards rely on the expertise of jury members who spot the considerable achievements and unique contributions of nominees. Here is a snapshot of what made Chloé and David stand out.

quote from jury member
quote from jury member

Danièle Castle, Senior Director Education & Skilled Workforce at digitalswitzerland was a member of the jury in 2020. She tells us what she was looking for when she evaluated entries last year.

Daniele Castle, Director Education & Skilled Workforce digitalswitzerland

This year, both Chloé and David will join the jury panel and have a say in who takes home the coveted prize. Who better than these two inspirational digital leaders to choose the most deserving winners of 2021? Joining Chloé, and David on the jury is Chair, Dominik Grolimund, serial entrepreneur and board member of swissICT, Ulrike Liebert, Head of the swissICT Smart Generations Expert Group and Kathrin Theurillat, Director Education & Skilled Workforce digitalswitzerland.

Nominate or apply

All that’s left to do now is to help us find this year’s NextGen Heroes. Submit an entry here and shine a light on the young people who are paving the way for Switzerland’s digital future.

Award application support

If you are interested in the other award categories, read this blog for a brief overview. And if you still have questions, take the opportunity to get expert advice on your Digital Economy Award application for free. Book your 15-minute, no-obligation consultation with Christian Hunziker, Managing Director of swissICT and Head of the Jury Process at the Digital Economy Award.

You can also sign up to the next swissICT application webinar briefing on 26 May on how to prepare the best application possible. We wish all applicants the very best of luck!