Collaboration, Persistence and Community: Our take on the essence of Innovation

Editor’s note: Recently we help an Innovate4Good@Microsoft event in Brussels, you can read a report from the event here.  Michalis Tolkas and Jasmer Dhingra both attended the event and we thought it would be interesting to get their perspective on the event and how young people can connect and innovate for the good of society. This post originally appeared on the Microsoft.EU blog.

By: Michalis Tolkas and Jasmer Dhingra

How do we inspire innovation in young people? How can we successfully marry technology with social entrepreneurship? How do we foster ideas for positive change?

These were a few of the fundamental questions that the Innovate4Good@Microsoft event tried to answer.


Bringing together over 110 young people from more than 20 countries of the wider European region in Brussels for two days, Microsoft’s initiative aimed at fostering a community of innovative thinkers and collaborative problem-solvers. Being myself a strong supporter of Steven Johnson’s quote that “chance favors the connected mind”, I found this an extremely well organized event where young people who have made a difference in their environment stood in front of their peers to present particular business development concepts and applicable solutions to social issues. And the count? More than 160 ideas were sticky-noted on the wall within a few hours of brainstorming between folks of different countries, languages, cultures, backgrounds and interests.

The inspiring talks of Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Global Community Affairs at Microsoft, encouraged us to look for our own path to success. It was a pleasant surprise to listen to the principles that you’d want to shape your professional or academic career from someone that has become successful by following them.

Be unreasonable, don’t be afraid of fear, expect and embrace failure, were a few of the ideas shared by Akhtar, who also offered the following inspired moment of laughter, which captures the essence of collaboration and tolerance of failure: Passion? Leave passion for the bedroom. It’s compassion that matters to me, what will make the difference in your work.

Innovate4Good offered what I see as one of the most important initial steps for promoting innovation: networking. It cultivated networks of young people, resources and opportunities. And before Jasmer, a friend, co-panelist at Innvoate4Good and bright example of a youth leader adds her impressions, I’ll close as I closed my speech at the youth panel: We need to seize each opportunity that comes our way, no matter how small it seems. Because in this interconnected world we live in, each opportunity is just a dot of the bigger picture of our potential that waits to be fulfilled.

Read the rest of the post here.