Thursday, 06 June 2019 13:38

VIDEOS: Last chance to enter the James Dyson Award for 2019


Are you a problem solver? Renowned British visionary, inventor and Dyson founder and CEO, James Dyson, is on the hunt for bright minds with fresh ideas world-wide, and it's not too late to enter!

The James Dyson Award, now in its 15th year, is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers.

It also also aiming to empower students and graduates to consider STEM careers, particularly in engineering by entering this year’s James Dyson Award.

It's open to current and recent design engineering students, and is run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to get young people excited about design engineering.

Now, the award opened on March 28, 2019, and I have been very bad in not writing about this earlier. 

However, there is a very well known saying that if it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done, with the pressure of a deadline regularly working miracles - so if this is you - the pressure is on!

There's also next year, which you might want to start preparing for now, but given the video below showcasing the awards and what it takes to enter explains how some of the entrants were able to use materials and work they'd already done - there's every chance you can use the same strategy to turn your ideas into award winning brilliance!

So, what's more on the awards, how do you enter, what can you win, what is holding back Australians from problem solving success, and where are those videos? Please read on!

Let's start with the videos – the article continues thereafter, please read on!

2019 James Dyson Award lecture, University of Sydney with Dyson's Robyn Coutts

Robyn Coutts, Advanced Design Engineer at Dyson, talks 2019 James Dyson Awards

Earlier this year, the James Dyson Award organisation put out a media release noting that "confidence and financial backing" is holding Aussies back from problem solving success.

Through a survey of 1000 Australians that revealed their opinions on solving real world problems commissioned by the James Dyson Award and conducted via a nationally representative YouGov study in March 2019, a range of interesting stats and figures are revealed.

For example. over a third of Aussies (33%) say they lack confidence in their own abilities to bring problem-solving ideas to life and that they have a fear of not succeeding (26%).

Dr Tim Sharp, Positive Psychologist and Corporate Consultant, said: “It’s not unusual to have self-doubt in your own abilities. We often set ourselves unrealistic expectations, feel like we don’t always have what it takes and fear rejection as well as success.”

He continued, “entering competitions like the James Dyson Award is a great way to venture outside of your comfort zone; it puts your achievements into a positive perspective and helps you take risks which can be incredibly rewarding. Along the way you may meet like-minded people who will give you mentorship and financial support you need - something that Dyson’s survey revealed 68% of Aussies struggle with finding the most.”

We're told that, "combined with a lack of confidence, fear of not succeeding and not being able to achieve financial backing, the survey also revealed that Aussies feel they lack the essential skills to convert their ideas into a real-world situation (38%).

"When asked who they think are the best problem solvers to the world’s most complex challenges, Australians cite scientists and engineers significantly more than anyone else (66%).

"Interestingly however, parents came out second (11%) followed by business entrepreneurs and innovators (10%) with teachers and politicians last (each at 4%)."

Last year, the James Dyson Award saw a team of students and graduates from the Queensland University of Technology and University of Queensland enter and win the 2018 National James Dyson Award with Macaron – a smart tape measuring device that measures and records distances, made so accessible and easy to use, even the visually impaired can use it.

Jake Dean from Queensland University of Technology, in the Macaron team commented: “We were all ecstatic when we were told that we won the National James Dyson Award. There was a pause for at least 10 seconds before cheers erupted.

"The room was filled with relief and excitement for at least a week after. The award's status helped us clarify we're heading in the right direction and the prize money (AU$3,200) meant we were able to continue with our prototypes and developing the product for consumers.

"Our goal was and has been to design a product so well that it wouldn’t matter if you were sighted or visually impaired when you picked up the product. It just works for you.”

The James Dyson Award explains that it "aims to empower people at the very start of their careers, giving them validation that their ideas matter and that we need their ambitious creativity to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems".

Sam Burrowes, Advanced Design Engineer at Dyson, comments: “At Dyson, we’re continually challenged to solve problems that others seem to ignore and disrupt categories with products that work better. Having a degree in an engineering or design discipline is of course essential, but our maths and science skills are only part of what goes into being a problem solver.

Being interested in current trends and issues, asking questions, as well as having self-belief and confidence to embrace failure is key to problem solving success. James Dyson’s personal story of success through failure is a philosophy that’s part of our DNA and everyday mindset.”


The sectors that over half of Australians think have the most pressing problems to solve include:

  • Farming and agriculture (e.g. sustainable farming, irrigation, soil degradation)
  • Water availability (e.g. irrigation requirements, variability of in-flow/rainfall, distribution)
  • Aged care (e.g. improved mobility designs, advancements in house design)
  • Ocean and Sea environment (e.g. dying coral reefs, acidification, pollution)

Lachlan Meadows of Swinburne University made the Top 20 for the International phase of James Dyson Award judging in 2017 with his colleague Hugh McKay, for their entry The Utility Barrow - which addresses issues experienced during a severe flood. Lachlan has been selected as one of the judges for this year’s James Dyson Award and comments on his experience:

“The environment and especially flooding is something, like many Australians, we are very passionate about. It is a worldwide problem we wanted to find a solution to, in order to help those affected. To this day, I still remember how excited we were to be recognised by Sir James Dyson himself, it gave us the confidence to continue pursuing our passion in engineering.”

Joining Lachlan on the 2019 judging panel in Australia are some of the country’s leading minds in the medical, technology and product engineering including; Salah Sukkarieh, Robotics Professor at USYD and Professor Jennifer Macleod at QUT who is an expert in Nanoscience.

This year’s competition opens on 28 March 2019. Graduates have until 11th July to enter, with more detail in the videos above, and at the James Dyson Award website


1X international winner: approximately AUD$53,000* (and AUD$8,500 for their university)
2X international runners-up: approximately AUD$8,500**
National winner: approximately AUD$3,200***

*Equivalent to £30,000 at time of payment
**Equivalent to £5000 at time of payment
***Equivalent to £2000 at time of payment

The annual James Dyson Award is run by the James Dyson Foundation in 27 markets, whereby entries per market are judged and shortlisted locally, the winners per market progress for judging by James Dyson himself. The Award is open to university level students (and recent graduates) studying product design, industrial design and engineering. Graduates have until 11th July to enter.

International winners will receive £30,000 (or A$53,000) to launch their idea. On top of this, their university will be given £5,000. Previous international winners have invested the money into renting their own development spaces which gives them the flexibility to build prototypes and conduct testing.

Past Winners


Global James Dyson Award 2018 winner was the O-Wind Turbine, a smart technology that has potential to revolutionise how we power our cities. The product was designed and created by two students originating from Chile and Kenya respectively. 



Australian James Dyson Award 2018 winner attempts to assist the visually impaired with Macaron, a smart tape measuring device that intuitively measures and records distance. 

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 11 July 2019

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.

More info here


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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