Meet Janne Elvelid – co-founder of EU Code Week

Publication date: January 27, 2017

This year EU Code Week celebrates 5 years. Janne Elvelid  was Young Advisor to the Digital Agenda and is one of the co-founders of EU Code Week.

Evgheni Minev, Bulgarian Code Week ambassador, met him and talked about EU Code Week and how it all started.

By Evgheni Minev, Bulgarian Code Week ambassador 



How did the idea of a Code Week come about and what was your purpose when you launched it?

It started within the group of Young Advisors to the European Commission’s Digital Agenda. We came from different countries and had different expertise and experience, but skills and
education was something we all related to. The purpose of the group was to advice on the digitisation of Europe, from young people’s perspective and we believed that skills development was very important to achieve a digital Europe.

Last year more than a million people participated in Europe Code Week and there were code events in USA, Africa, Asia and Australia. Did you envisage that your initiative would become so recognized in Europe and in the world?

No, the first edition was planned in something like a month more or less without resources. It was supposed to be a lean initiative and no one really had expectations in terms of impact. I am very happy that the initiative has spread around the world and that so many people come together to celebrate coding during CodeWeek.

How did you learn to code? What made you passionate about digital skills?

The few things I know about coding I have learned myself. I studied business at the university and we did a project on opportunities for small online businesses. One of the companies caught on and decided to implement what we suggested – and I said I would do it. I didn’t know anything about building websites, but I managed to build an online shop and customer forum for a small business selling fishing gear. It’s probably the worst paid job I’ve ever had – if you include the time I spent learning to code. On the other hand, I learned to code.

Is there an information technology that interests you in particular?

I don’t have any favourite tool or technology. I do experiment a lot with sensors to measure my life today. This is partly because I’m interested in data and the possibilities it offers in so many domains today.

What is your advice to those who will advocate Europe Code week for the first time? 

Code Week is something you do because you like it – so make sure to have fun! As I’ve always taken an interest in how we can get digital skills and coding into formal education, I would also encourage all ambassadors to approach teachers, school leaders and politicians in education to promote Code Week and digital skills in education.

You have two children. Are they interested in coding? How did you introduce them to coding? 

I have made sure my children have had access to technology since they were little. I also encouraged my son to study engineering and to try Code academy and I took my daughter to coding activities. Actually, one of the reasons for me to build the version of the Code Week map was because I didn’t know where to find coding classes in my home town. Today, both my kids are very tech savvy, which will be useful for them no matter what kind of career they choose.

How do you imagine Europe Code Week five years from now? Will the message change and will it be still relevant? 

Yes and no. Five years from now most countries will have included digital skills and coding in their curricula. But this will be an area where the skills demand will change a lot.
There will be a role to play in terms of experimenting with new stuff and feeding this into policy making. There will also always be a role for extra curricula activities since some kids will want to go deeper than what the schools can offer.