Backing entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and engineering

The James Dyson Award, an international design award initiated by British design hero and inventor, Sir James Dyson, encourages BIG ideas and problem solving in the field of design & engineering.

The 2010 award shortlist has just been finalised. Ideas include a mobile seat for the infirm, a battery that zooms cyclists uphill, an intravenous drip that prevents seizures, an inflatable life raft that converts saltwater into drinking water, a fold-up mini-scooter and a smell-free UV sports bag that kills odour and bacteria.

The winner will be announced by the vacuum cleaner legend on the 5th October and they will receive a top prize of £20,000, split equally between the inventor and their university.

James Dyson began his design journey at the Byam Shaw School of Art (now part of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design) and then studied furniture and interior design at the Royal College of Art (1966–1970) before moving into engineering.

In the late 1970s Dyson had the idea of using cyclonic separation to create a vacuum cleaner that would not lose suction as it picked up dirt. He has since come up with the Dyson Air Multiplier (bladeless fan) and the Dyson Airblade (hand drier). The Sunday Times Rich List 2008 estimated his fortune at £1.1 billion whilst Forbes magazine estimates it at £1 billion. If that doesn’t inspire the kids to go into engineering, I don’t know what will.

The Independent recently wrote of Dyson’s persistent complaint that Britain fails to back science and engineering. The prize is part of his attempt to counter what he perceives as an establishment bias towards the arts. 

All about the Idea is of course passionate about BIG ideas in both science and arts fields. While the prize for our Idea of the Year 2010 winner is slightly more modest than Sir James’ generous £20,000 handout, a bottle of bubbly is not to be sniffed at. My advice is to hold off until next year for the James Dyson Award and channel your creative juices into the AATI Idea Awards instead!

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