Lifestyle

This Prize Will Reward Filipino Ingenuity With Up To US$40,000

Ingenious inventions wanted.
IMAGE Jamesdysonaward.org
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Dyson is probably best known here as the company that makes those nifty little Thor's-hammer-shaped hairdryers that your girlfriend's been heavily hinting after. Abroad, it's made its name as a top contender in the world of vacuum cleaners. At its core, however, it's really probably best described as a design and engineering company, built around the legacy of one man—James Dyson, himself an engineer and inventor. 

Talk to the any of the hundreds of engineers Dyson employs across the world, and you're likely to keep hearing some of the same things over and over: that the company is heaven for design engineers, for one thing, or how their goal isn't to design good-looking products, but to design products that solve a problem. 

"Design that solves a problem" is the company's ethos, and so Dyson hopes to find and encourage young engineers with a talent for it, no matter where they may be.

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The James Dyson Foundation has been running the James Dyson Award since 2007 as a design engineering award open to students and recent graduates, awarding one national winner and four finalists from each country. From that pool, James Dyson selects one international winner to take home a purse of GBP30,000 (about US$40,000), with an additional GBP5,000 (US$6,600) to the winner's university. The award is open to young Filipino design engineers for the first time this year.

While the cash is nothing to sneeze at, the aspiring inventors know that the real prize is seeing their vision realized as real, marketable products. Past finalists and winners have included Dan Watson, who was the overall winner in 2012 with his concept for SafetyNet, a commercial fishing net that would allow juvenile fish to escape; Isis Shiffer, overall winner in 2016 for a bicycle helmet made out of paper, called the EcoHelmet; and Kai Xiang Lin, who was one of the US National finalists for Klippa, a prosthetic leg made for amputee rock climbers:

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Aspiring inventors better get a move on: Entries close on July 20, and national winners will be announced on September 5. The international winner will be awarded on October 18.

To enter, one only needs to explain the concept via the online entry form, and upload any sketches, renderings, or photos—there's no need to have a working prototype on hand.

The entries from other countries have begun to come in, and the field is certainly varied. Concepts this year include the Polarbair, a ski helmet that comes with an airbag to protect skiers from neck injuries; Iye, a (very British) invention that seeks to help the elderly boil water for tea; Glucosio, a phone case for diabetics that comes integrated with a blood-sugar test; and even Speakers Font, "a phonetic font that can be understood intuitively" to help deaf people and those learning a foreign language sound out the words (we don't pretend to understand how that works yet).

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The Philippine round of the James Dyson Awards launched just last Wednesday, May 23, so local entrants have got their work cut out for them. But between legendary Filipino ingenuity and the sheer number of problems there are to solve, we're sure there isn't a shortage of homegrown ideas just waiting to be born.

For more information, visit the James Dyson Award website.

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