A global call for problem solvers: The James Dyson Award is officially open for entries and launches for the first time in Mexico, UAE, Sweden and the Philippines

A global call for problem solvers: James Dyson begins his search for ingenious inventions.

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James Dyson (second from right) with the 2017 James Dyson Award international winning team- sKan

Today, the James Dyson Award opens for entries, giving students and recent graduates of engineering and design a unique opportunity to show their problem solving inventions on a global stage. The brief is simple, design something which solves a problem, big or small. The winner will gain international exposure through the competition and S$50,000 prize money to develop their idea.


Over the last fourteen years the James Dyson Award has gained more and more international recognition, attracting outstanding ideas from across the globe. Ingenuity can be found anywhere. We want to support as many young inventors as we can. This year the annual competition will include entries from a further four nations: Mexico, UAE, Sweden and the Philippines; operating in a total of 27 nations.


James Dyson says: “Young engineers and designers have perspective and unbridled intelligence that makes them incredibly adept at problem solving. Their ideas can easily be dismissed, but if nurtured and celebrated they are transformative. Developing a product or technology is a long and daunting process; the James Dyson Award celebrates the inventive young people embarking on that process. The Award champions our next generation of inventors and will propel them towards future success. I am excited to see what surprising ideas this year’s award brings.”


The competition recognises ingenious designers and engineers who challenge the status quo and do more with less. The best inventions are often the simplest, yet provide an intelligent solution to a real-world problem. Past winners have sought to tackle overfishing, sustainability in the clothing industry and food waste. Last year’s International Award went to the sKan, a low-cost, early detection melanoma skin cancer device, engineered to prevent misdiagnosis. Previous to this, EcoHelmet, a fully foldable paper bike helmet designed for bike share programmes took the title. As technology advances and products become increasingly complex, we are seeing a shift towards the use of machine learning; robotics; and the fusing of software and hardware in the entries.


The sKan team says: “Winning the James Dyson Award was an exciting and humbling opportunity. The media exposure we received around the world opened many doors for us. We’ve made connections with top experts and are continuing to learn from them so we can develop ‘The sKan’ to help solve the problems in today’s melanoma diagnosis process.”


Last year’s Singapore Winner was PERIa cost-effective attachment that can be strapped to a pair of spectacles. It allows the deaf and hard of hearing to visualise sounds using flashing light cues, helping them to keep out of harm’s way.

SG 2017 National Winner - PERI 1

Pavithren Pakianathan, team leader of the group says: We wanted to create a solution that is socially conscious. It was great that the experience took us out of the classroom. By working closely with a few deaf individuals, we learned more about the challenges they face and were able to incorporate the learnings to design a better prototype.”


Past Winners

2016 – International Winner – EcoHelmet

Bike share schemes are used by millions of people around the world, but users rarely wear a helmet – a potentially fatal decision.

EcoHelmet is a foldable, paper bike helmet, which uses a honeycomb configuration to protect the head from impact and folds completely flat when not in use.

2015 – International Winner – Voltera V-One

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are the electronic paths on an insulated surface that help power appliances such as smartphones, biomedical devices, and other electronic technologies. To research and develop new electronics, it is vital for engineers, inventors, and students working in this area to be able to prototype PCBs cheaply and quickly. But this process tends to be time consuming and expensive.

Voltera V-One solves this problem by using the same rapid prototyping principles that underpin 3D printing to turn design files into prototype boards in minutes.

2014 – International Winner – MOM
More than one in ten babies worldwide are born prematurely. According to the World Health Organization, 75% of deaths resulting from premature birth could be avoided if inexpensive treatments were more readily available across the globe.

MOM is a low cost, inflatable incubator for use in the developing world. The device can be collapsed for transportation and runs off a battery which lasts 24 hours, in case of power outages. The incubator is blown up manually and it is heated using ceramic heating elements. A screen shows the current temperature and the humidity which can be custom set, depending on the gestation age. An alarm will sound if the desired temperature changes. And for babies that suffer from Jaundice there is a phototherapy unit.


About the Competition

JDA Logo 2018

The competition brief: design something that solves a problem. This problem may be a frustration we all face in daily life, or a global issue such as world hunger. The important thing is that the solution is an effective and well-thought through solution.


The prize: The international prize: S$50,000 (and S$9,000 for their university), S$9,000 for two international runners-up and each national winner receives S$3,500.


The process: Entries are judged first at the national level – before progressing to the international stage. A panel of Dyson engineers select an international shortlist of 20 entries. The Top 20 projects are then reviewed by Sir James Dyson, who selects the international winner.


The James Dyson Award runs in 27 countries and regions worldwide. These are:  Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, UK, and USA.


The deadline: midnight GMT on 20 July 2018


How to enter: candidates enter through an online application via the James Dyson Award website.


Entrants should concisely explain what their invention is, how it works, and their development process. The best entries are always realistic and sustainable, show iterative development, solve a real problem and tell a story.


Entrants should submit imagery to support their application. The best entrants should be able to show evidence of physical prototyping as well as sketches and CAD.


Eligibility criteria

Entrants must be, or have been within the last four years, enrolled for at least one semester in an undergraduate or graduate engineering or design program at a university in a country or region chosen to participate in the James Dyson Award.


In the case of team entries, all members of the team must be, or have been within the last four years, enrolled for at least one semester in an undergraduate or graduate program at a university in a country or region chosen to participate in the James Dyson Award. One will need to be nominated and registered as the team member.

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