June 11, 2014

Diversity x Innovation

Image photo

We had one of the biggest events with the collaboration with Microsoft Japan, on 7th June, at the Microsoft Japan Shinagawa Office. 47 students, both Japanese and international students, from various countries and universities, participated in the event. We invited Patrick Newell as a special facilitator, and also William H. Saito as a judge.

Patrick Newell is a learning activist who has been working on various educational projects in Japan including Living Dreams an NPO that enriches and empowers over 3,000 orphans. William H. Saito is one of the world’s leading authorities on encryption, authentication and biometric technologies.

The purposes of the event, “Diversity x Innovation -Idea Contest for University Students -,” is to make people realize how diversity contributes to innovative idea. The theme of the contest is to come up with innovative ideas of new technologies, using a tablet device to make people’s life move forward.

Throughout the day, the students actively worked on improving their unique ideas within the groups, and trying to make a final presentation of their ideas in the hypothetical setting that they are pitching to convince Microsoft to implement their ideas into their new products. We saw how Patrick’s facilitation let the students’ imagination and creativity come out.


  Workshops and Presentations

The event had started before the event day. We divided 47 students into 8 groups, each team consists of mix of Japanese and international students. Students were asked to communicate with each other within the group and to come up with their team name, in advance. As some teams also made their team logos, we could see their creativities and efforts on it.

The event started off with brainstorming, which the students put 100 ideas on post-it, only in 10 minutes, the students needed to think fast, not to stop thinking, and to use their 5 senses + “6th sense”. For the final presentation, each team chose three potential ideas from the 100 random ideas, and those ideas should have been simple, concrete, emotional, unexpected, credible, and stories!


At the end of the event, each team presented their ideas of new tablet applications that make the world better. Their ideas varied from the applications for music, language, health to those for education. The presentations were integrated into Pecha Kucha Style, which is 20 images×20 seconds presentation style. Although it was the first time for most of them to make a presentation in this form, all the innovative ideas from diverse students surprised us!



Voice from Students

We were happy to hear that Microsoft was surprised with unique ideas that they have not seen before. One of our purpose that to show innovative ideas through diversity was realized. We are also happy to hear the positive comments from the student participant. Some of the comments are below:

“I had a really good time communicating with different people. My motivation became really good way by really interesting people. I am still appreciate all people participated in this event, and I hope we have some strong relationships at work in the future.”

“Nicely done! All events should be as organized as this idea contest.”

“Since I don’t have a lot of chance to speak English in Japan, I really enjoyed the time. If there are events like this again, I would like to sign up.”

“The presentation workshop was eye opening and awesome!”