Prize-winning inventions at the Dyson Awards

The James Dyson Award is an international design competition for students. Among the winning projects for 2014: an inflatable incubator and a solar-powered portable cooker.

March 2015

Prize-winning inventions at the Dyson Awards. The James Dyson Award is an international design competition for students. Among the winning projects for 2014: an inflatable incubator and a solar-powered portable cooker. IMA Lab

Sir James Dyson, is a 67 year-old British inventor and industrial designer, best known as the inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, which works on the principle of cyclonic separation. To put it another way, he invented the bagless vacuum cleaner which made him a multimillionaire, but in order to do so he worked for five long years on the project and made 5,127 different prototypes.

In 2002 Dyson set up a Foundation to support design and engineering education. The Foundation's aim is to inspire young people to study engineering and become engineers by encouraging students to think differently and not to worry about making mistakes.

One of the Dyson Foundation’s activities is the running of the James Dyson Award. This international design competition is open to “students who design something capable of resolving a problem”. In 2014 over 600 projects were submitted for its various national competitions and the main international event, with total prize money adding up to over £100,000 sterling.

The international prize was won by James Roberts, a 23-year-old design graduate from Britain’s Loughborough University, with his portable incubator. Called MOM, the device is intended to be a low-cost alternative to traditional incubators, allowing premature babies in places such as refugee camps to survive when they might otherwise perish.

The first runner up was QOLO, a powered wheelchair created by two engineering students from Japan's University of Tsukuba. This is designed to allow people who lack the use of their legs to stand up, move across the floor in a standing position, and then sit down again. It does so via a passive electro-mechanical assistance system, that responds when the user shifts the weight of their upper body.

The winner of the Italian prize was “Solari”, a portable cooker which uses solar energy to cook outdoors. Easy to transport and use, the device also has a temperature sensor which allows users to follow the cooking process, transmitting real time data via Bluetooth. At the same time, a mobile app which connects different solar cookers to one another will make it possible to share recipes and culinary tips with other users. The idea was developed by Bodin Hon, a student from Milan’s European Institute of Design.

A further 4 Italian projects were admitted to the international competition:
No̩, a new system of manholes designed to prevent rubbish from accumulating in drains and blocking them; Volta Lamp, a suspended lamp which can be rotated in any direction with one gesture; Patio РNew Espresso Landscape, a new concept coffee-making machine; and Jbin, a machine for cleaning urban rainwater, but also an element of urban d̩cor, developed through a collaborative process involving physicists, agronomists and biologists.

Creativity and innovation appear to be unlimited, at least when encouraged by initiatives like this. Hopefully we will see more such stimulation in the future, whether from public bodies or private ones like the Dyson Foundation.



James Dyson Award projects’ gallery

First and second international prizes:  MOM and QOLO

First Italian prize : SOLARI