The Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI) is the U.S. Department of State’s flagship program for emerging entrepreneurs from Europe. A cohort of young European entrepreneurs from 45 countries will participate in a robust fellowship program in 2021-2022.

The YTILI Fellowship Program application opens January 4, 2021 and closes March 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm EST.

YTILI Fellowship: Empowering European Entrepreneurs

Since its launch in 2016, approximately 300 alumni from across Europe have bolstered their business skills and transatlantic partnerships through the YTILI Fellowship Program. YTILI uses entrepreneurship as a tool for economic empowerment to promote mutual understanding, enhance business and leadership skills, and build lasting partnerships between business leaders from Europe and the United States. Beginning in October 2021, YTILI will empower a new cohort of young European business and social entrepreneurs to grow their ventures, foster global partnerships, and positively impact the economic development of their communities.

Two YTILI Fellows having a Dialogue at a YTILI event.
YTILI Fellows Group Photo in Washington D.C.

The YTILI Fellowship Program engages young European entrepreneurs in a series of professional development and leadership activities that are designed to strengthen the transatlantic relationship and encourage European businesses, governments and civil society to develop their innovation ecosystems. The program includes an online and in-person entrepreneurship curriculum; a fellowship placement with a business or organization in one of nine U.S. cities; opening and closing conferences in Chicago and Washington, D.C.; and a regional Innovation Summit in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The 2021-2022 YTILI Fellowship Program will run from October 2021 to September 2022, with U.S. travel elements scheduled for March 22, 2022 – April 27, 2022.

Please see our About and Apply pages for more program and application details.

Apply to YTILI

YTILI Fellows should be passionate about his or her business or social venture and be an innovative and positive driving force in their home communities. We encourage you to apply if you would like to gain professional experience, develop transatlantic relationships, and scale your business or social venture at home.

The YTILI Fellowship Program application opens January 4, 2021 and closes March 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm EST.Apply Here


Competition for the YTILI Fellowship Program is merit-based and open to young entrepreneurs and leaders in their home communities who meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants between the ages of 25 and 35 at the time of application.
  • Applicants who are citizens of the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
  • Applicants must be living and working in their country of citizenship.
  • Have at least two (2) years of experience at their current social or business venture.
  • Able to begin the YTILI Mini MBA Entrepreneurship Curriculum in November 2021 and their U.S. based experience in March – April 2022.
  • Are eligible and able to receive a U.S. J-1 Visa.
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English at the time of application.
  • Are committed to returning to his or her home country after completion of the program.
  • Are not a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident of the United States or have applied for U.S. permanent residency in the past three years.
  • Are not a U.S. government employee.
  • Have not participated in an exchange visitor program sponsored or funded by the U.S. Department of State in the past five years.
  • Are not residing or working outside of Europe at the time of application.

Please note:

YTILI Fellows are not allowed to bring dependents (including spouses and children) during the U.S. Fellowship, U.S. Conferences, and the Innovation Summit.

The U.S. Department of State and WorldChicago reserve the right to verify the information included in the application. If there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible. If you do not meet the technical eligibility requirements for this program, please visit for information on other U.S. Department of State exchange opportunities.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State strives to ensure that its efforts reflect the diversity of U.S. society and societies abroad. The Bureau seeks and encourages the involvement of people from traditionally underrepresented audiences in all its grants, programs and other activities and in its workforce and workplace. Opportunities are open to people regardless of their race, color, sex, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Bureau is committed to fairness, equity and inclusion.

Application Instructions

The purpose of the application is to better understand applicants’ qualifications for the YTILI Fellowship Program. The application has four main sections outlined below. More detailed application instructions can be found on the application during the open application period.

  • 1General InformationThe purpose of this section is to collect general information to confirm certain eligibility criteria.
  • 2Short Answer QuestionsThe purpose of this section is to highlight the applicant’s experience and leadership potential for the YTILI Fellowship Program.
  • 3Statement of PurposeThe purpose of this section is to evaluate the applicant’s personal and professional goals and the potential impact to their home communities and the YTILI network.
  • 4CV Attachment & Reference LetterThe purpose of this section is to emphasize the applicant’s qualifications and experience.

Selection Process

Throughout the process, applicants will be evaluated based on their leadership abilities, community impact and engagement qualities, clarity of program goals and objectives, program and cultural preparedness, innovative mindset, entrepreneurial background, and potential for community impact after the program. There are four stages of the YTILI Fellowship Program selection process. The stages are as follows:

  • 1Technical EligibilityAll applicants will be initially reviewed based on technical eligibility.
  • 2Application ReviewIf ruled technically eligible, applicants will then move onto the Application Review stage. The U.S. Department of State, WorldChicago, and a panel of experts will evaluate the completed applications.
  • 3Asynchronous InterviewFollowing the Application Review stage, semi-finalists will be asked to submit a pre-recorded, asynchronous interview. This asynchronous interview will be evaluated by U.S. embassies, the U.S. Department of State and WorldChicago.
  • 4SelectionThe U.S. Department of State and WorldChicago will then select approximately 60 participants and a list of alternates. Finalists and alternates will be notified.

Selection Process and Activity Timeline

YTILI application releaseJanuary 4, 2021
YTILI application deadlineMarch 1, 2021 by 11:59 pm EST
Semi-finalists are selected and all applicants are notifiedMay 17, 2021
Semi-finalists’ asynchronous interviews are dueMay 31, 2021
Finalists and alternates are selected and all semi-finalists are notifiedAugust 2021
YTILI Fellows announcedMid-September 2021
Virtual Mini MBA, led by DePaul University in Chicago, IL beginsNovember 2021
YTILI Opening Conference in Chicago, ILMarch 23 – 25, 2022
U.S. Fellowship and entrepreneurship trainingMarch 28 – April 22, 2022
YTILI Closing Conference in Washington, D.C.April 25 – 26, 2022
Virtual Mini MBA, led by GEA College in Slovenia, beginsJune 2022
Innovation Summit in Ljubljana, SloveniaSeptember 12 – 14, 2022
Reciprocal Exchanges in various European countriesSeptember 14 – 22, 2022


In 2021 and 2022, the YTILI Fellowship Program will engage a cohort of young European entrepreneurs in program activities to enhance the transatlantic dialogue between business leaders from Europe and the United States and create sustained, cross-cultural collaboration.

YTILI Program Goals

  • Mutual UnderstandingYTILI deepens cross-cultural understanding through fellowship placements, homestays, community service, cultural activities, and reciprocal exchanges.
  • Transatlantic Partnership BuildingYTILI creates a dynamic network of leaders that supports entrepreneurial partnerships between the people of Europe and the United States through networking events, international conferences, and alumni engagement.
  • Leadership & Entrepreneurial Skill DevelopmentYTILI commits to providing quality fellowship placements and expert-led curricula to inspire Fellows to grow their businesses in size and impact, and drive positive change in the economic ecosystems in their home communities.
  • Sustainable Professional Exchange & CollaborationYTILI provides Fellows with opportunities to engage before, during, and after the U.S. Fellowship to collaborate and share ideas, approaches, and strategies to continue to improve their business or social ventures.

YTILI Program Activities

  • U.S. FellowshipMarch 2022 – April 2022YTILI Fellows will spend five weeks in the United States and experience entrepreneurship in action in one of nine U.S. cities through a fellowship placement. Each Fellow will participate in and observe the operations of a host U.S. organization from his or her business sector. Through collaboration with their fellowship host organizations, Fellows will accelerate their commercial and social ventures’ success by developing action plans to carry out upon their return to their home communities.
  • Mini MBA Entrepreneurship CurriculumNovember 2021 – March 2022 and June 2022 – September 2022The Mini MBA Entrepreneurship Curriculum will provide YTILI Fellows the opportunity to connect their entrepreneurial knowledge and their leadership mindset through both virtual and in person components. Designed by WorldChicago, DePaul University (Chicago, IL) and GEA College (Ljubljana, Slovenia), the Mini MBA will include a series of synchronous and asynchronous seminars and workshops before, during, and after the U.S. Fellowship to give practical insights into growing a business or organization.
  • U.S. Based ConferencesMarch 2022 & April 2022The U.S. Fellowship will launch with an Opening Conference in Chicago, IL in March 2022. YTILI Fellows will participate in an orientation, workshops, seminars, and one-on-one dialogues. From these critical conversations, Fellows will discover how the resilient tools of entrepreneurship and innovation have launched an economic rebirth as they prepare for their U.S. fellowship placement. Following their fellowship placement, Fellows will reassemble in Washington, D.C. for a Closing Conference to collaborate, share their experiences, and network with business and social entrepreneurial leaders and U.S. government representatives.
  • Innovation Summit & Reciprocal ExchangeSeptember 2022Reconvening in Ljubljana, Slovenia in September 2022 for a Regional Innovation Summit, Fellows and fellowship hosts will engage in professional development, mentorships, networking, and alumni activity. U.S. fellowship hosts will have the opportunity to attend the Innovation Summit as American participants to continue their entrepreneurial growth through reciprocal exchanges to their Fellows’ home communities. WorldChicago will also make small grants available for Fellows, now YTILI Alumni, to promote the expansion of entrepreneurship throughout Europe.

YTILI Program Details

  • Small GrantsYTILI Fellows will have the opportunity to apply for small grants to realize their action plans and continue to foster the program goals of promoting transatlantic partnerships, enhancing entrepreneurial skill development, and sustaining professional exchange and collaboration beyond their fellowship experience.
  • HousingTo further cultivate cross-cultural relationships, YTILI Fellows will stay in homestay accommodations for the duration of their U.S. fellowships. Fellows will commute to and from their fellowship host organizations by public transportation.
  • Cultural Activities & Community ServiceYTILI Fellows will participate in various cultural activities and acts of community service to supplement their U.S. fellowship placements and expand their understanding of their host communities. Through these activities, Fellows will connect with community leaders and cultural representatives from the U.S. and engage in transatlantic dialogues.
  • U.S. Fellowship Placement OutlineEach YTILI Fellow will work in his or her host organization’s office Monday through Thursday for four weeks during the U.S. Fellowship. Fellows can contribute to and learn from the host organizations in a variety of ways, including projects, meetings in the field, job shadowing, or independent research. Fellows will continue their Mini MBA curriculum and participate in community service on Fridays.

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