How to join the James Dyson Award 2021

The James Dyson Award has a clear objective in mind: It wants to discover talented engineering and design undergraduates or recent graduates who are designing “something that solves a problem.” It’s been around since 2005 and is now open for submissions for the year.

The brief is kept broad and open-ended because it aims to challenge the students to tackle and solve big problems.

“Young people want to change the world and the Award supports them to do that giving crucial funding, validation and a platform to launch their ideas,” James Dyson, founder and chief engineer at Dyson, said in a statement. “They are remarkably successful, 65% of international winners are commercializing their ideas, against a backdrop where 90% of start-ups fail. I will be looking for radical inventions that challenge and question established thinking. Good luck!”

The 2020 International winner was Judit GirĂ³ Benet from Universitat de Barcelona for The Blue Box, an at-home breast cancer detection device that diagnoses patients using an AI algorithm and a urine sample.

Benet was joined by the first Sustainability winner: Carvey Ehren Maigue, from Mapua University in the Philippines. He won for AuREUS, a system that uses upcycled crop waste to absorb stray UV light from sunlight and convert it to clean renewable electricity.

You can check out the other past winners and their projects here.

The Sustainability award will be returning this year, so there will be two global prizes once again. These are the prizes up for grabs:

  • Overall International winner receives PHP 1,900,000, plus PHP 320,000 for the winner’s university
  • Sustainability winner receives PHP 1,900,000
  • Two International runners-up receive PHP 320,000
  • Each National winner receives PHP 125,000

These are the key dates you need to pay attention to:

  • March 17: Entries open
  • June 30: Entries close at midnight PST
  • August 25: National winners and 2 x National runners-up announced
  • October 13: International top 20 announced
  • November 17: International winner and Sustainability winner announced

The entries are judged first at the national level by a panel of external judges. Those who win a National accolade will then proceed to the International awarding stages. Each operating market awards a National winner and two National runners-up. 

From these winners, a panel of Dyson engineers then selects an international shortlist of 20 entries. The top 20 projects are then reviewed by Sir James Dyson, who picks the International winner, International runners-up, and International Sustainability winner.

Source: Dyson

How to enter

Candidates enter through an online application form via the James Dyson Award website

You must explain what your invention is, how it works, and its development process. The best entries don’t just solve a real problem. They are clearly defined, show iterative development, provide prototyping evidence, and have supporting imagery and a video. 

For this year, all judges will consider the restrictions to prototyping and product development as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Eligibility criteria

The James Dyson Award runs in 28 countries and regions worldwide, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, the UK, and the USA. The Award launches for the first time in Poland in 2021.

You must be, or have been within the last four years, enrolled for at least one semester in an undergraduate or graduate engineering-/design-related course. This course must be at a university in a country or region chosen to participate in the James Dyson Award. 

In the case of team entries, all members must be, or have been within the last four years, enrolled for at least one semester in an undergraduate or graduate program at a university in a country or region picked to participate in the James Dyson Award. At least one team member must have studied an eligible subject in engineering or design.

From 2020, those participating in a degree-level apprenticeship at Level 6 or Level 7, and those who have completed said training in the past four years, are now eligible to enter the award.


If you think you have an idea that solves a problem, now is your chance to bring it to life! We’d love to hear your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter.