The James Dyson Award 2020 is open for entries:
We are looking for inventors solving big problems. This year there will be two winners – not one.
19 March 2020
Since 2005, the James Dyson Award (JDA) has challenged inventive and entrepreneurial undergraduates and recent graduates of engineering and design, to invent something that solves a problem. 1 in 5 past winners, who each received the £30,000 prize, have gone on to successfully commercialise their inventions.
In addition to the International winner, in 2020 the JDA will crown a second winner, focused on Sustainability for the first time. James Dyson said, “Each year we have been struck by the ingenuity and conscience of young people to solve really big problems. So many of the James Dyson Award entries have a focus on improving the world through engineering and technology. Recognising the role that engineers and scientists play in creating a sustainable future, we have decided to introduce a second international prize focused on ideas which do more with less and tackle environmental or social issues.”
Solving real problems
The best inventions are often the simplest, providing clear and intelligent solutions to real-world problems. Past winners have addressed issues such as plastic waste, energy generation and medical treatment in developing countries. The 2019 International winner, MarinaTex, is a home-compostable bioplastic made from a combination of waste material from the fishing industry and sustainable algae. It is designed to be an alternative to single-use plastic films.
The award has given young inventors international media exposure, which has opened up further investment and opportunities for them to develop their ideas. Past winners such as Lighthouse, a leak-detecting robot and US national winner 2018, and ORCA, a water-cleaning robot and China’s national winner 2018, have launched successful businesses. The inventor of MarinaTex, Lucy Hughes, says that winning the award has already “massively changed her life”. The prize money and interest she has received from investors means she is now pursuing MarinaTex full-time to make it into a mass-manufactured product.
After winning the award Lucy said: “I’m so proud to have won the James Dyson Award and really humbled that the potential of my invention, MarinaTex, has been recognised in this way. Winning the James Dyson Award will be a huge kick start to getting MarinaTex through the next phase of R&D and onwards towards production. Additionally, I hope it will shine light on the importance of circular principles in the design phase and will leverage the importance of taking form, function and footprint into account.”
About the competition
The competition brief
Design something that solves a problem. This problem may be a frustration that we all face in daily life, or a global issue. The important thing is that the solution is effective and demonstrates considered design thinking.
Entries are judged first at the national level by a panel of judges, before progressing to the international stage. A panel of Dyson engineers then select an international shortlist of 20 entries. The top 20 projects are then reviewed by Sir James Dyson who selects the International winner, International runners-up and the new Sustainability winner.
- The International winner receives a prize of £30,000, plus £5,000 for the winner’s university.
- The Sustainability winner receives a prize of £30,000.
- The two International runners-up receive £5,000.
- Each National winner receives £2,000.
The deadline to apply: midnight PST on 16 July 2020.
How to enter
Candidates enter through an online application form via the James Dyson Award website.
Entrants should concisely explain what their invention is, how it works, and their development process. The best entries solve a real problem, are clearly explained, show iterative development, provide evidence of physical prototyping and have supporting imagery and a video.