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Australian invention named James Dyson Award global finalist

The 20 best global entries from this year’s James Dyson Award have been announced after being selected by a panel of Dyson engineers.

13 October 2021

RMIT University graduate, Aaron Nguyen, has been named a Top 20 finalist in this year’s James Dyson Award . The James Dyson Award, run by James Dyson’s charity The James Dyson Foundation, seeks to find the brightest minds with fresh ideas to solve real-world problems. Aaron’s invention, LUNA Modular AFO, is just one of several inventions among the global best entries that seeks to create a more inclusive world, solving problems faced by people with disabilities.

This year saw a record-breaking year for James Dyson Award entries, with over 2,000 university students and graduates (within four years) across the world submitting their projects to the annual competition. From a wood alternative made from Kombucha waste (Pyrus), to natural ecosystems for bees (HIIVE), to a new bio leather made from citrus peel waste (Citra), the Top 20 inventions are designed to solve global issues head-on with unique solutions. Whether that is a scanner to determine types of plastics (Plastic Scanner), an assistive drawing device (Guided Hands) or new male contraceptive (COSO), these problem solving solutions aim to help improve lives across the world.

LUNA Modular AFO

In Australia, every three weeks a child is born with a Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), a broad group of inherited, degenerative disorders characterised by impaired walking due to spasticity (stiffness) and weakness of the lower limbs. Current ankle foot orthosis (AFO) options for children provide minimal support to their growing users, with rigid thermoplastic forms used to create an intentionally tight fit to give the user the optimal support. RMIT graduate, Aaron Nguyen’s invention, LUNA Modular AFO, is an ankle foot orthosis designed to adapt to its growing users modularly, prolonging use over several years, and reduce discomfort or common issues like blistering and cuts.

Aaron Nguyen was also named the James Dyson Award National winner, as judged by engineer Jane Waldburger, STEM journalist Rae Johnston and inventor Alex Goad. The National runners-up were Rinse Repeat, a compact home wastewater recycling system that halves water use in front loading washing machines and SASS: Stand Alone Sun Flow System, a sustainable and stand-alone water treatment system.

“I’ve always seen the James Dyson Award as the best of the best of industrial design competitions. I feel honoured to be recognised at the international level. Having two relatives that suffer from HSP and hearing of their discomfort from my aunty, made this such an important problem to tackle.”

“Personally, I think that engineers and designers should bear the burden of figuring out how to make everyday life more sustainable, and that the end user shouldn’t have to compromise for a more sustainable option.”

Aaron Nguyen, RMIT graduate and James Dyson Award Top 20 Finalist

Invention Never Stops

Facing challenges from Covid-19 lockdowns over the past 18-months, students around the world continue to prove that invention never stops. Students and graduates have continued to collaborate with team-mates and industry partners virtually, making the most of at-home resources while laboratories were closed.

The 20 best global entries were shortlisted by a panel of Dyson engineers from 83 national finalists from the 28 participating countries. Celebrating Dyson’s belief that great ideas come from diversity of thought and experience, the Top 20 judges came from the wide range of knowledge and expertise within Dyson’s Research, Design and Development teams. They specialise across a broad range of engineering fields including Microbiology, Automation, Sustainability, Software, Motors and Technical design, Early Concepts, Healthcare, Manufacturing. The judging panel also welcomed high-performing undergraduates from the Dyson Institute of Engineering Technology to share their insight, challenging conventional design processes.

“I believe the James Dyson Award is an extremely effective way of encouraging young engineers to focus hard on their ideas and move their designs forward quickly. The award provides a fertile starting ground for innovation to take root and get the support and recognition that teams and individuals need to succeed.”

John McGarva, Dyson Global Head of Design Engineering

“Inventions need to solve a real challenge with a well-researched and elegant design. Entrants need to demonstrate that they really understand what the problem is, that they have engaged with experts and end-users and try as much as they can to test and improve their solutions.”

Kay Yeong, Dyson Lead Technology Scout

Top 20 Entries



    HIIVE is a better bee home that enables beekeepers to keep their bees in a natural way, by supporting the natural behaviour of the Apis Mellifera. It is made of sustainable materials and with its low energy sensors it offers an all new beekeeping experience. It replicates the micro-climate of a tree-cave.



    The REACT system uses a rapid, inflatable Tamponade device that is inserted into the stab wound. The automated inflation of this Tamponade provides internal pressure direct to the bleeding site, controlling bleeding faster than current methods. The implantable medical-grade silicon Balloon Tamponade is inserted into the wound tract by a first responder.

International Stage

The Top 20 reveal marks the beginning of the international awarding stages by Sir James Dyson, where the International Winner and Sustainability Winner will be announced on 17 November.

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