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The James Dyson Award, the international student design and engineering competition run by the James Dyson Foundation, has just opened for entries, calling for novel inventions that tackle a pressing real-world problem. Open to all engineering and design students and recent graduates, the Award seeks designs that address a global issue, from cancer diagnosis to natural disasters.

With global recognition offered to an International Winner and a Sustainability Winner, past winners include an off-road ambulance trailer to rescue the wounded from conflict zones, a paint made from recycled glass that vastly reduces the need for air conditioning, and a device to control bleeding from stab wounds.

Established in 2005, the competition has now supported over 400 young inventors with more than 1million in prize money, and more than two thirds of past global winners have pursued the commercialisation of their ideas. The International Winner and global Sustainability Winner will scoop 35,000 to support their next steps, while 5,800 is offered to each National Winner in the 30 markets where the Award is run.

Sir James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer, said: “The world needs more doers – problem-solvers, not grandstanders, who are ready to take on the problems of our time. Every year the James Dyson Award gives young people a platform for their medical and environmental inventions, and much more besides. It’s their ‘wrong thinking’ that leads to breakthroughs, whether it’s the development of a new sustainable material, or the application of clever engineering principles to help improve people’s lives. I look forward to seeing what new inventions this year’s Award brings!”

Past Winners Success Stories

Previous recipients of the Award have gone onto great success thanks to the global media exposure and injection of funds that the prize offers. Past International Winner Yusuf Muhammad entered his invention Automist in 2009, which is a device that tackles domestic fires with an ingenious water misting mechanism that uses 10 times less water than a traditional system. Today, Yusuf runs a successful company that has installed over 13,000 systems and is currently securing international certification ahead of a prospective US launch.

He said, “Winning the James Dyson Award gave me great confidence and a springboard to success. It allowed me to start a company, which turned my design concept into a product that protects homes all over the world and has saved lives. As an internationally recognised award, it’s a fantastic vehicle to bring your ideas to life.”

Last year, in Ireland, Joel Olympio was awarded the national winner prize for his invention Oasis aimed at addressing the issue of visual distractions in open environments, particularly targeting individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Today, Joel has launched his startup, Chapter, to fully advance the development of Oasis and prepare it for commercialisation.

He said: “The Irish James Dyson National Award win last year opened doors to countless opportunities for me and provided significant exposure for my invention, Oasis, within both the design world and the ADHD community. Oasis stemmed from in-depth research into adults with ADHD and my own personal experiences. Today, I have decided to push forward with the development of this product, aiming to bring it to market through my startup, Chapter. My aim remains steadfast in creating inclusive technology that improve focus for all. This award has given me the drive to pursue this vision, and I’m thrilled with the progress made so far.”

Other past winners around the world have included:

  • The Golden Capsule (South Korea) – a hands-free intravenous (IV) device designed for disaster zones, which can be strapped to the patient and does not rely on gravity.
  • HOPES (Singapore) – a wearable device for pain-free, low-cost glaucoma testing that patients can do at home.
  • PlasticScanner (Netherlands)– an open-source scanning device to help fight plastic waste by detecting what type of plastic an item is.
  • BlueBox (Spain) – an at-home cancer screening solution designed to encourage more women to test for breast cancer.
  • mOm incubators (UK) – a low-cost collapsible, portable infant incubator, which has been successfully used to save babies’ lives in Ukraine.

James Dyson Award Winners, Debra Babalola and Shefali Bohra for Dotplot. Issue date: Wednesday September 7, 2022. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Lia Toby/PA Wire.

National winners and runners-up will be whittled down to a global Top 20 by a panel of expert Dyson engineers across different disciplines, and finally Sir James Dyson himself will pick the best.

The National Winners will be announced on September 11th, the global Top 20 shortlist on October 16th and Global Winners on November 13th.

John Reilly

John is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheEffect.Net. His favourite gaming series is Uncharted and his favourite film is Interstellar. He is also known to quote 'Father Ted' and Keith Lemon more than is normal.