Supporting The Next Generation Of Inventors: The James Dyson Award

As you might expect for a company founded by an engineer, creativity and ingenuity are at the heart of Dyson, and everything they do is driven by ideas that can spark solutions to global issues. That mission is reflected in the James Dyson Award, the James Dyson Foundation’s global competition for young inventors.

James Dyson believes inventors have the power to solve problems that others ignore. As you might expect for a company founded by an engineer, creativity and ingenuity are at the heart of Dyson, and everything they do is driven by ideas that can spark solutions to global issues.

That mission is reflected in the James Dyson Award, the James Dyson Foundation’s global competition for young inventors. When we launched globally in 2005, we set out a simple challenge- design something that solves a problem. Throughout the 15 years of the award, entrants have risen to that challenge year on year, showing creativity and ingenuity to design solutions to global problems; from generating green energy to environmental protection, to providing AI-enabled healthcare in developing countries.

Over the time that we have been running the James Dyson Award, we have expanded the program to include more markets. In 2020, the award is running across 27 countries and regions and as the scope has expanded, so has the range of problems that the entrants choose to address. It seems that no matter what the problem, innovation, and good design are international languages, and there is young engineering talent all around the world that is looking for an opportunity to progress.

As an example, the national winners for the UAE in 2019 developed Vita-Cam, a mobile application based on a convolutional neural network, an artificial intelligence technology, which is able to analyze images of body parts, including eyes and nails, to detect deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. The app was created to be a tool for early diagnosis of underlying medical conditions whereby people could opt for detection without having to visit a doctor physically. Contributing to the digitalization of healthcare in the UAE, the team responsible for Vita-Cam, engineering students at Ajman University, identified a gap in the regional healthcare market and came up with an innovative solution to address the problem.

The winners and judges of the James Dyson Award in the UAE in 2019. Image courtesy Dyson.

The James Dyson Award has recognized solutions to problems since its invention, but this year, in recognition of the importance of design within sustainability, we have introduced a second international prize for sustainability that recognizes an idea that does more with less and tackles a global environmental or social issue.

One important thing to note about the award is that the judges are looking at both an invention’s technical and commercial feasibility. A good idea –and more importantly, a good invention– needs to be commercially viable. The award is not just focused on recognizing and rewarding talent, but on ideas that can become worldwide, compelling solutions to real issues. Beyond securing prize money, winners get media exposure while retaining full control over their intellectual property.

Over the past five years, four of the international winners have gone on to successfully commercialize their entries. Even participants who have been shortlisted for the international prizes, or recognized in the national stages of the competition, have received interest from both the media and potential investors. The award is now open for entries, and we’re looking forward to seeing what exciting inventions are submitted across the UAE in its third year.

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