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Designers, engineers and problem solvers wanted

What do a hydration blanket for stranded whales, an energy saving nebuliser for respiratory patients, and a practical yet stylish skateboarding shoe with a replaceable outer shell and washable inner have in common? They’re all clever Kiwi inventions that have previously been entered into the popular James Dyson Award. And if you feel you’ve got a clever invention to contribute to the world, entries for the 2011 award have just opened. 

The international student design award runs in 18 countries and challenges young engineers and designers to develop problem solving inventions. 

James Dyson, the British inventor who designed the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner, offers a clue as to what the judges are after:   

“Put faith in frustrations and solve the problems that cause them. We’re looking for the people who rather than accept a problem and make do, design a simple and effective solution.”   

Previous winners of the award have taken an innovative approach to problems that range from a buoyancy aid inspired by a grenade launcher, to a kitchen tap which can tackle a fire in your home. 

Last year Julian Schloemer, a Massey University student, won the national award for his design titled Lucid—a wakeboard binding with an automatic release mechanism designed to be safer than current bindings which hold feet onto a board even after a fall, increasing the chance of injury. 

You have until 2 August to submit footage, images and sketches of your ideas to www.jamesdysonaward.org, along with stories detailing your design process and inspiration.   

The New Zealand James Dyson Award winner will receive: 

  • Return airfares to the UK, NZ$3,000 spending money and accommodation in London.
  • Meetings with top UK design companies and a visit Dyson’s London office.  
  • NZ$3,000 legal or business advice from Auckland firm Farry.Co.
  • An official fee prize package from IPONZ tailored to the winner’s immediate intellectual property needs.
  • A year’s membership to the Designers Institute of New Zealand.

All New Zealand entries will also qualify for the international James Dyson Award, with £10,000 going to the winning student or team, another £10,000 to the current or former student’s university department and an opportunity to visit Dyson’s engineering facilities in either the UK or Malaysia. 

The national winner will be announced in mid-August and the international winner, on 8 November.

The award is run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to encourage the next generation of design engineers to be creative, challenge and invent.

Julian Schloemer with his wakeboard binding invention

Overall winner of the 2010 James Dyson Award, Samuel Adeloju. The Australian student created a rocket-propelled life-preserver which can be launched up to 150 metres