How do you know when a new invention is actually a solution when judging the JDA?
The JDA is a problem-solving competition. A common issue people entering the award struggle with, even once they’ve selected a problem, is making sure that their solution is actually new. Some problems recur more often than others. For example, a biodegradable type of plastic, is something that a lot of people over the years have tried to solve, so we’ve seen lots of different solutions, some better than others. It’s actually good that a lot of people are trying to solve things that are “big problems”. MarinaTex last year found a solution that was intelligently designed preparing the invention for commercialisation.
Hundreds of young inventors apply worldwide and many enter with incredible solutions to problems. We have to rank the entries by some other measure of how successful they have been. We do this by asking which inventor has had a “truly original” idea, and last year’s winner demonstrated that with providing a clear solution to a problem that many had tried to address before.
What kind of inventions do you expect to see from the JDA this year and which areas do you expect them to focus on?
The design brief to submit an entry to the James Dyson Award is quite simply, “design something that solves a problem”. So, we are really looking for ideas that solve a real problem, whether it be social, global or sustainable, and presents a compelling, unique solution. The inventions that do well in the competition have a real potential to improve people’s lives. Clear evidence of iterative design in your application is also received well. This is part of the designing DNA at Dyson and allows us to see the invention’s journey so far and its potential future. The judges – and James Dyson especially – are drawn to designs that employ clever yet simple engineering principles. As well as proving your project’s technical viability, we're also curious to see if it’s commercially viable too. So, if you can, include evidence of any research you have done into manufacturing.