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JDA entrant.

The James Dyson Award hears from its ingenious inventors to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day

Four previous winners of the award talk about their inventions, goals and advice for future engineering enthusiasts helping to #ShapeTheWorld

June 23 2020






  • Marinatex
  • Lucy Hughes

    Inventor of Marintex

    International winner 2019

    @LHughes_Design @lucyhughesdesign

I graduated in 2019 from Sussex University in Product design and entered the James Dyson Award (JDA) in the same year, after I handed in my final year project. I am inspired to create sustainable circular solutions to unsustainable linear problems. This involves reimagining how we use products, thinking differently about waste and creating solutions that value form, function and footprint at equal importance.


MarinaTex is a new material made from algae and fish waste. It was designed to provide a home compostable alternative to un-recyclable, un-compostable and unsustainable LDPE plastic film in packaging. The project began at a fish processing plant, with the intent of adding value to the existing waste streams. After research and over 100 experiments in my kitchen, the material was transformed from a pungent mess to a consistent and strong material.


Currently, MarinaTex is in the labs for development. This is a very exciting time for the project as it is shedding light on how it could be applied and ultimately manufactured. Material development is notoriously timely so the biggest challenge is creating a solution that was needed yesterday!


What advice would you give to future entrants currently working on their applications?

My best advice when applying to the JDA is to show your workings, justifications and failures. To be able to identify where you went wrong is the best way to show you have thought analytically about your idea. What excites me about design and mapping out the design process is that you can really make a tangible difference to something you care about. In a world where so often we ask ourselves “what can I do to help?”, engineering and design can provide solace by empowering people to find solutions.


What do you think the future holds for invention?

I think we will see more transparency between companies and consumers regarding the sustainability of their products. Life cycle analyses are a really good way of assessing this and I think it should be part of a product’s description, so consumers can make an informed decision at purchase.


Hopefully in the next 5 years we will address our throw away culture and see a lot more re-usable products. In the waste hierarchy; refusing, reducing and reusing are top priorities.

  • Mimica
  • Solveiga Pakštaitė

    Inventor of Mimica Touch

    UK National winner 2014



I entered the James Dyson Award in 2014 and won the National prize in the UK, also making the global Top 20 shortlist of inventions, with my invention Mimica Touch, previously named Bump Mark.


Mimica Touch is a label or other form of packaging that turns bumpy when food spoils, according to actual temperature conditions. It contains a gel which we map and match to model the spoilage of the target food. If you are keeping the food in a good chilled condition, the gel will also be happy, but the gel will break down much faster when the food is in higher temperatures, replicating the deterioration of food. Mimica Touch provides an accurate, real-time indication of the product’s freshness with a tactile interface. Having a more accurate and responsive system will reduce food waste and improve food safety.


We’re now a team of nine people and after several years of developing this ground-breaking chemistry, we’re scaling up production of our bottle cap format to launch into the beverage industry, with some major food producers on board.


What advice would you give to future entrants currently working on their applications?

Think about the bigger picture for your innovation, not just the first market for it. Design engineering impacts absolutely everyone in the world – almost everything we use has been designed or engineered. This means that so much is decided at the hands of thinkers like us. You can use that power to exploit, poison and harm, or you can use it to improve, regenerate and care. Your design decisions will get multiplied to a huge scale when they go into production, so you can personally have a lot of positive impact on the world. It’s the ultimate problem solving! And there are many of those yet to tackle.


I am inspired by anyone who takes the leap of trying to bring to life something they believe should exist in the world. That’s why the start-up community is so wonderful!


What do you think the future holds for invention?

As we get ever closer to the UN’s 2030 deadline of meeting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, I think we’ll see more innovation centred around delivering these key goals – check them out!


I also think having a more diverse group of thinkers to solve problems that in reality affect people from all walks of life; we need as many perspectives as possible to do a better job.

  • Mimica
  • Shubham Issar

    Inventor of SoaPen

    USA National runner-up 2017



Originally from New Delhi, India, I created SoaPen with my co-founder whom I met while studying at the Parsons School of Design, New York. We entered the James Dyson Award in 2017 in a team and were awarded the national runners-up prize in the USA.


SoaPen is a soap-filled pen that allows children to draw on their hands and wash them, providing an alternative to basic hand sanitizer or soaps. We designed SoaPen to address the fact that handwashing with soap can prevent one in three children from infectious illnesses that lead to high infant mortality rates. With SoaPen, children can draw all over their hands with colourful, berry scented soap sticks that rinse away leaving their hands clean. The fun nature of SoaPen means children don't complain about having to wash their hands before dinner! For every three pens sold in the US, SoaPen donates one to a school in a low-income community in India.


What advice would you give to future entrants currently working on their applications?

Always keep the user first when designing your ideas and at whatever stage you are currently at in the design process…just submit your application! Your idea is the most important part of the submission. That is what is so exciting about design engineering, being a problem solver. In the very early stages, we submitted a simple sketch of SoaPen to the UNICEF Wearables for Good challenge and went on to win the challenge. This gave us the start-up capital to get our invention off the ground. The world needs change-makers who can lead by doing, so don’t hesitate to get your invention out there and part of the conversation.


What do you think the future holds for invention?

I think we’ll definitely be seeing more inventions in the healthcare and hygiene space, given the global events of recent months. As an entrepreneur myself, I’d really like to see more women of colour across STEM and entrepreneurship over the next few years.

  • Mimica
  • Maria Yzabell Angel Palma

    Inventor of AirDisc Cooling Technologies

    Philippines National winner 2019



I’m the inventor and founder of AirDisc Cooling Technologies which aims to develop revolutionary cooling innovations. I entered the James Dyson Award in 2019 and around this time last year, I attended a seminar held by Dyson where I was introduced to the award and was motivated to apply. I won the National prize in the Philippines and was shortlisted in the global Top 20 inventions.


My invention is a one-of-a-kind cooling approach which does not use chemical refrigerants but simply uses abundant air molecules as the cooling medium. AirDisc Air Conditioner translates to zero global warming potential, drastically reduced energy costs and better pricing compared to conventional ACs. AirDisc is currently patent pending with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and also pending with the Patent Cooperation Treaty for global protection of intellectual property rights in all countries.


Since winning the national title in the Philippines, we have been in talks with different parties worldwide interested in the technology and have secured pledges for manufacturing. One constraint that we’re currently facing is the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as we focus on ensuring the health of our people during development.


What advice would you give to future entrants currently working on their applications?

You have to believe in yourself and your entry. Really take the time to understand the requirements of the James Dyson Award so that your application is informative and considered. Put in as much detail about your idea as possible; this doesn’t have to be technical but ensure that your invention is well understood.


“People see things as they are and ask why. I dream of impossible things and ask why not.” This is my approach to design and engineering – seeing people create something out of nothing is truly challenging and inspiring. With perseverance and determination, we can really make seismic changes through design engineering, where the theories and principles of science are materialised and put into human use. People as young as me are given the opportunity to showcase this by taking part in the James Dyson Award.


What do you think the future holds for invention?

I would love to see new inventions and green technologies that will make our Earth a much better place to live in. With the increasing threat of global warming, it is necessary to come up with technical solutions that will directly address the problems accelerating this worldwide issue. I believe that future inventions and technologies will be more considerate of the environment.


For design or engineering students and recent graduates, the James Dyson Award is an international design award, run by the James Dyson Foundation, that inspires, encourages and celebrates budding inventors' new, problem-solving ideas – and provides a platform to launch them. Inspired by Lucy, Solveiga, Maria and Shubham’s journeys? Apply now.

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