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James Dyson Award 2020 Global Prize winners announced

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Young inventors address significant global problems from breast screening processes to new ways of generating renewable electricity

The James Dyson Award 2020 International winner aims to make screening processes for breast cancer more accessible. According to the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, on average, nine New Zealand women each day will discover they have breast cancer.[1: Breast Cancer Foundation NZ https://www.breastcancerfoundation.org.nz/breast-awareness/breast-cancer-facts/breast-cancer-in-nz ]

The James Dyson Award’s first ever Sustainability Award winner aims to more effectively generate renewable energy from light and upcycling waste in the process.

It is estimated that if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, global supplies of gas and oil will deplete by 2060. So finding clean, renewable alternatives that are accessible and effective needs to be prioritised. [2: Ecotricity. https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/our-green-energy/energy-independence/the-end-of-fossil-fuels]

19th November 2020, Auckland - 2020 was a record-breaking year for the James Dyson Award, which has now financially supported 250 promising inventions from young engineers and scientists around the world. Despite this year’s challenges, the award received its highest number of global entries ever, and the quality was exceptional - highlighting the ingenuity of young inventors. The entries of two international winners, who each receive $55,000, aimed to solve significant problems of global importance: women missing breast cancer screenings and sustainable methods to effectively generate renewable energy.[3: Equivalent to £30,000]

James Dyson Award 2020 Finalists:

International winner: Invented by 23-year-old Judit Giró Benet from Tarragona (Spain), The Blue Box is a new way to detect breast cancer, at-home, using a urine sample.

Sustainability Award: Invented by 27-year-old Carvey Ehren Maigue from Mapua University in Manila (The Philippines), AuREUS System Technology is a new material made from waste crop which converts UV light into renewable energy.

International Runner-up: Invented by a team of students from Imperial University and the Royal College of Art (UK), The Tyre Collective is a device that captures tyre-wear particles at the wheel of a vehicle, to be recycled for future applications. International Runner-up: Invented by students from the University of Waterloo (Canada), Scope is a new lens using liquid crystals that enables a lossless camera zoom.

Commenting on the 2020 James Dyson Award, Sir James Dyson said: "Young people want to change the world, and the engineers, scientists and designers who enter the James Dyson Award demonstrate that they can. We have observed a growing number of ideas for healthcare and improving sustainability, and it seemed invidious to choose between such noble ideas, so we created two prizes this year, to support two equally worthy inventions. Judit and Carvey are highly impressive individuals who have made significant breakthroughs, I hope that they can use the James Dyson Award as a springboard to future success."

International winner - The Blue Box, invented by Judit Giró Benet

The problem

Inspired by the inventor’s mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer, Judit realised that there is a global need for a less invasive and more accessible screening process for breast cancer. Currently, screening requires women to attend hospitals or medical facilities and undergo an invasive, sometimes painful, and often costly procedure. As a result, it is estimated that 40% of women skip their breast cancer screening mammogram, resulting in 1 in 3 cases being detected late, leading to a lower chance of survival. [4: Feldstein, A.C., Perrin, N., Rosales, A.G., Schneider, J., Rix, M.M. and Glasgow, R.E., 2011. Patient barriers to mammography identified during a reminder program. Journal of Women's Health, 20(3), pp.421-428.]

The solution

The Blue Box is an at-home, biomedical breast cancer testing device that uses a urine sample and an AI algorithm to detect early signs of breast cancer. It empowers women to take charge of their health with a non-invasive, pain free, non-irradiating, low-cost alternative which you can do regularly at-home.

The device performs a chemical analysis of urine samples and sends the results to the cloud. Here, the AI based algorithm reacts to specific metabolites in the urine, providing the user with a fast diagnosis. The device is linked to an App which controls all communications to the user, immediately putting them in touch with a medical professional if the sample tests positive.

The next few years are crucial for Judit as she and her team work towards the final stages of prototyping and data analytics software at the University of California Irvine, ready for human studies and clinical trials alongside vital patent filings.

On winning the International prize, Judit said: "The Blue Box has the potential to make cancer screening a part of daily life. It can help to change the way society fights breast cancer to ensure that more women can avoid an advanced diagnosis. The day that James Dyson told me that I had won the International prize was a real turning point as the prize money will allow me to patent more extensively and expedite research and software development I am doing at the University of California Irvine. But, most of all, hearing that he believes in my idea has given me the confidence I need at this vital point."

James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer at Dyson said: "Unfortunately, I have witnessed first-hand the harrowing effects of cancer and as scientists and engineers we should do anything we can to overcome this terrible disease. Judit is using hardware, software and AI together, in an impressive way, to create a well-designed product that could make cancer screening part of everyday life. The data which The Blue Box collects and stores in the cloud will provide insight which can enable more precise treatment and expand global knowledge of Cancer. She deserves all the support she can get as she navigates the highly complex system of medical approvals."

Sustainability winner - AuREUS System Technology, invented by Carvey Ehren Maigue The problem

Many renewable energy sources suffer from intermittency: wind power and solar power can only be generated in very specific environmental conditions. Solar panels mostly capture and convert visible light into renewable energy and must be facing the sun to do so. Current solar farms are only built horizontally, never vertically and often placed on prime arable farmland, meaning the land can’t be used to grow crops. Yet, there are thousands of windows and other surfaces that could be repurposed. Solar panels can process 15-22% of solar energy into usable energy. This is dependent on placement, orientation and weather.[5: Green Match. https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2014/11/how-efficient-are-solar-panels]

The solution

AuREUS is a material that can be attached to a pre-existing structure or surface to harvest UV light and convert it into visible light to generate electricity in a way that traditional solar panels can’t. Whether the sun is shining, or it is cloudy, Carvey’s material will still generate electricity as the particles in his material absorb UV light causing them to glow. As the particles ‘rest’ they remove excess energy and this ‘bleeds’ out of the material as visible light which can then be transformed into electricity. AuREUS has the potential to turn more solar energy into renewable energy than traditional solar panels and it can function fully even when not in direct sunlight. Current testing suggests that it can produce electricity 48% of the time, compared to 10-25% in conventional photovoltaic cells.[6: Renewable Energy Focus. Available here. Statista. Available here. ]

The Philippines is victim of severe weather disruption and Farmers can lose much of their produce as a result. Rather than leave the crops to rot, Carvey sought to use them as a UV absorbent compound for his substrate. After testing nearly 80 different types of local crops, Carvey found nine that show high potential for long-term use. The substrate, when applied to materials, is durable, translucent and can be moulded into different shapes. Carvey is already looking into how he can develop his material for use beyond windows and walls, such as fabrics and embedded into cars, boats and airplanes.

James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer at Dyson said: "AuREUS is impressive in the way it makes sustainable use of waste crops, but I’m particularly impressed by Carvey’s resolve and determination. Having failed to make the national stage of the Award in 2018, he stuck at it and further developed his idea - this will be a very important character trait as he embarks on the long road to commercialisation. I wish him every success because, as a farmer, I have always been concerned about covering fertile, food-producing, agricultural land in photovoltaic cells. Carvey’s invention demonstrates a convincing way to create clean energy on existing structures, like windows, within cities."

After speaking to James Dyson, Carvey said, "Winning the James Dyson Award is both a beginning and an end. It marked the end of years of doubting whether my idea would find global relevance. It marks the beginning of the journey of finally bringing AuREUS to the world. I want to create a better form of renewable energy that uses the world’s natural resources, is close to people's lives, forging achievable paths and rallying towards a sustainable and regenerative future."

This year’s New Zealand national winner of the James Dyson Award, Voronoi Runners, addresses the global issue of waste from the footwear industry. The Voronoi Runner, designed by Massey University student Rik Olthuis, is a shoe that can be easily deconstructed, with every component and material able to be composted at the end of its life. Runners up in this year’s competition also included Massey University students, Lisa Newman with her design SWITCH, a portable hand tool to help maintain clean cattle tails, and Samantha Hughes, with her design Clean Catch, a paediatric urine sample collection device. Read more on the James Dyson Award New Zealand national finalists here.

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