James Dyson Award 2021 names Philippine winner and runners-up

The James Dyson Award has a simple brief: “Design something that solves a problem.” It can impact your daily life or take on a local or international issue. All the participants need to offer are effective solutions that demonstrate considered design thinking. 

This year, 2100 entries poured in from around the world, with 12 universities participating from the Philippines. These are record-breaking numbers for the JDA. 

When asked about what trends they have seen in the entries submitted this year, Grace Ke of the James Dyson Foundation mentioned how sustainability, lifestyle, and healthcare were the most significant themes.

We now take a quick look at the three inventions representing the Philippines at this year’s James Dyson Award. All offering practical yet solutions to some problems we’re facing in the country.

Winner: Pili Seal

A graduate from the Philippine State College of Aeronautics discovered a new sustainable sealant for aircrafts’ integral fuel tank made from the waste of pili tree resin or “spent resin/de-oiled resin.” Mark Kennedy Bantugon wanted to find better sealing materials to be used in his industry. 

The most common sealing materials used currently are polysulfide-based sealants. These have been around for over 50 years, and they are resistant to aviation fuels. However, due to the chemicals used and their composition, these have an offensive odor and can be hazardous to users. 

Another concern is these chemically-produced sealants can leak from aircraft fuels. A case study Bantugon cited was the China Airlines’ B737-800 accident in Japan on August 20, 2007, where the fuel tank explosion was caused by a fuel leakage, and it was mainly due to the sealants used.

Pili Seal is a two-component sealant. The waste of pili tree resin acts as the base material for aircraft integral fuel tank sealant production. By mixing the base and a hardener material, the sealant can adequately function as a sealing material. It is applicable for aircraft parts such as the integral fuel tank and components subjected to contact with aircraft fuels, lubricants, oils, water, and weathering.

In terms of application, performance, and efficacy, Pili Seal has exceeded data results of commercial sealants from over 20 property tests ranging from physical, chemical, mechanical, thermal to rheological. 

Apart from its exceptional property results—and unlike commercial sealants—Pili Seal also offers safe and non-toxic effects to day-to-day users like aircraft mechanics and technicians.

Bantugon is looking to further study and maximize the use of the sealant for other relevant industries, including land and water transportation, constructions, buildings, wood, or metal sheet roof application.

He wants the Pili Seal to be a gateway to developing aviation sealants locally and create an ecosystem to help Filipino farmers generate additional income opportunities from upcycling and using resin waste of Pili trees.

Runner-up: ReConnect

Living in an archipelago poses many challenges, especially when natural or man-made disasters strike. It gets even more challenging when disaster-stricken areas suddenly have limited access to food, water, electricity, and the internet. 

A team of three students from De La Salle University Manila wanted to help emergency response organizations and those in evacuation centers continue to have access to stable online communications. 

Source: James Dyson Award

Kaye Mangaoang, Paolo Luis Perez, and Ralph Danielle De Rojas invented ReConnect. This portable and compact device can temporarily restore internet connectivity in these areas and assist with rescue efforts. 

ReConnect is equipped with a built-in satellite dish that connects users to the nearest Internet Service Provider and appropriate emergency devices. This satellite dish functions as a transmitter and receiver, containing the modulator, IF and RF amplifiers, and a mixer/converter. These transmission lines are made up of coaxial cables and waveguides to help connect the antennas to the router. With this, the router with high gain antennas enables users to access information using Wi-Fi.

Runner-up: Non-invasive Bacteria Detector on Wounds

Between 15.5% and 17.5% of Filipinos today live under the poverty line and lack access to proper healthcare. That’s why many resort to self-medication or alternative medical practices such as folk healing. These practices can be detrimental to health. 

And so, two students from the Technological Institute of the Philippines-Manila wanted to offer an accessible and medically safe solution to help those with wounds get the appropriate treatment.

Angelica Moneth Lozano and Shania Xylene Miguel invented the Non-invasive Bacteria Detector on Wounds. This portable, sensor-based device detects gas emitted by an open wound through an electrochemical gas sensor. Signals picked up from the sensor enable patients to understand their injury site and administer appropriate medication safely. 

Apart from detecting bacteria in wounds, the detector serves as a cost and time-effective alternative to laboratory tests at local public hospitals. The team wants this solution to be accessible to non-medical staff and purchased over the counter. 


Pili Seal, ReConnect, and Non-invasive Bacteria Detector on Wounds will progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award.

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

On October 13, the Top 20 international finalists will be announced. The winners will be announced on November 17.

Carvey Ehren Maigue (Source: James Dyson Award)

A Filipino was named the first JDA Sustainability winner. Carvey Ehren Maigue from Mapua University won for AuREUS, a system that uses upcycled crop waste to absorb stray UV light from sunlight and convert it to clean renewable electricity.