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The James Dyson Award Top 20 shortlist.

Dyson engineers select the James Dyson Award Global Top 20 finalists.


Today marks the beginning of the international stages of the James Dyson Award 2021 as the global shortlist of 20 pioneering inventions has been announced. All have the chance to become a global winner and receive £30,000 to support the next stages of their inventions.


In August, the Award announced its national winners and runners-up, across 28 countries and regions. From a wood alternative made from Kombucha waste, to a redesign of the traditional inhaler. This was just the start of uncovering the world’s next brightest minds and young inventors.

Invention never stops.

Students around the world continue to prove that invention never stops and that they have the capability to solve the world’s most difficult problems. 2021 is another record-breaking year for the Award receiving the highest number of entries ever, with over 2,000 projects submitted to take part in the competition. The Top 20 inventions are designed to solve global issues head-on with unique solutions. Whether that is a scanner to determine types of plastics, an assistive drawing device or new male contraceptive, these solutions have global resonance. Many of these ideas have been developed over the past two years in a global pandemic. Collaborating with teammates virtually and making the most of at-home resources whilst laboratories were closed.

The Top 20 shortlist.

15 Dyson engineers and designers have reviewed the 83 national finalists to curate this year’s global Top 20 shortlist of inventions. We asked them to share their thoughts on the line-up.

  • James Dyson Award Top 20 video.


  • John McGarva - James Dyson Award Top 20 judge.

    • “I believe the James Dyson Award is an extremely effective way of encouraging young engineers to focus hard on their ideas and move the designs forward quickly. The Award provides a fertile starting ground for innovation to take root and get the support and recognition that teams and individuals need to succeed.”


       - John McGarva, Global Head of Design Engineering at Dyson and Top 20 judge.

The panel analysed, debated and reviewed all the national finalists, coming together virtually to whittle down the final shortlist.

  • A non-toxic flame retardant for use across multiple materials.

    National runner-up, Canada.

  • ArchGuard uniquely offers complete cerebral protection during transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures.

    National runner-up, US.

  • A bio leather made from citrus peel and beeswax.

    National runner-up, Malaysia.

  • An ultrasound-based, reversible and hormone-free male contraceptive device for home use that temporarily modifies spermatogenesis.

    National winner, Germany.

  • An electronic tool that makes traditional art equipment accessible. It can be attached to a wheelchair, drawing on the floor as the person moves their chair. 

    National runner-up, UK.

  • A handheld device that allows visually impaired users to experience football matches via touch.

    National runner-up, Ireland.

  • A mechanical assistive device that enables anyone living with limited hand mobility to write, paint, draw and use a touch-screen device.

    National winner, Canada.

  • HIIVE enables beekeepers to keep bees in a natural environment, by supporting the behaviour of the Apis Mellifera. 

    National runner-up, Germany.

  • A wearable biomedical device for pain-free, low cost, at-home intraocular pressure (IOP) testing. 

    National winner, Singapore.

  • A sustainable sanitation solution leveraging upcycled waste and reduces use of freshwater.

    National runner-up, Singapore.

  • A modular ankle-foot orthosis for children that grows with the user.

    National winner, Australia.

  • ManiFlex offers a new functional and integrated orthosis with the unique properties of TPU.

    National winner, Belgium.

  • Colour changing material to identify how much pressure is applied, for use across medical and athletic purposes.

    National runner-up, US.

  • A chair that applies pressure to support and calm people with autism.

    National winner, France.

  • A two-component sealant that serves as the base ingredient for aircraft fuel tank sealant production.

    National winner, Philippines.

  • The low-cost, handheld Plastic Scanner tells you on the spot what type of plastic a product is made of, to improve recycling processes.

    National runner-up, Netherlands.

  • A petroleum-free wood-like material sustainably produced with waste from the kombucha industry.

    National winner, US.

  • The REACT system uses a rapid, inflatable Tamponade device that is inserted into a stab wound. The automated inflation provides internal pressure direct to the bleeding site, controlling bleeding faster than current methods.

    National winner, UK.

  • In contrast to conventional wheelchair models, people with limited arm and hand function can control S'werve by shifting their weight and operate it with one hand.

    National runner-up, Switzerland.

  • Zerogap helps people with paralyzed lower limbs shorten the distance between the wheelchair and the toilet. 

    National winner, Taiwan.

Dyson Newsroom

Meet the James Dyson Award Top 20 judges

  • Kay Yeong - James Dyson Award Top 20 judge.

    • “What impressed me the most about the Top 20 shortlist was that many entries originated from a very human origin – empathy. Inventions were inspired by the suffering of others, be it limitations in mobility, visual impairment, barriers in communication and so on. Addressing these issues shows that young people care and want to bring a genuine difference to those that are less fortunate.”


       - Eilenne Loh, Floorcare Design Engineer at Dyson and Top 20 judge.

  • What makes an entry Top 20 worthy?

  • Lead Technology Scout, Kay Yeong, says: “The invention needs to solve a real challenge with a well-researched and elegant design. The entrants need to demonstrate that they really understand what the problem is, engaged with experts and end-users, and try as much as they can to test and improve their solutions.”


    Kay Yeong - James Dyson Award Top 20 judge.

  • Alex Davison - James Dyson Award Top 20 judge.


    “A thoroughly considered design is key, with evidence of a deep iterative process, and an openness around failure – the lessons learnt and improvements made. Great inventions take time to flesh out, and failures are necessary to refine the design.” Alex Davison, Undergraduate Engineer at the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology.

Stay tuned for 17 November 2021 when Sir James Dyson will announce the global winners of the James Dyson Award.


Read more about 2020’s International winners here.

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