The 2015 Dyson Award is on, and the Real Prize is Exposure

The annual James Dyson Award is now inviting 2015 entries from college students and recent grads who are inventing creative solutions to the world’s many problems. While the prize money is nice, the real benefit is getting your creation on an international pedestal. 

There are so many science awards out there right now, and some of them are huge. But the James Dyson Award still has a unique aura of excitement. Maybe it’s partially because it carries the name of the famed British inventor who still manages to wow consumers with new takes on items as commonplace as a household fan. But in any event, the contest every year seems to yield concepts and inventions that make the rounds on international media and some draw serious investment.

Related: Who Wins the James Dyson Awards?

In fact, while the prizes are relatively small (the grand prize is $45,000, and runners-up get $3,500 to $7,500), the value in participating is that the inventions themselves really draw the spotlight. It probably has to do with the fact that good design is at the core of the awards, and people like cool-looking stuff. But also because it’s targeted toward college students, which means that it’s a competition among complete unknowns, so their inventions are the focus. 

Here are just a few examples of some projects from past contests that have sprung into celebrity, big investments, or real life application:

 

  • The Copenhagen Wheel is probably the Dyson alum that has the most excitement surrounding it. The wheel attachment turns a bike into a hybrid. The developers have received $4 million in funding and are in the middle of extensive product testing to hit the real world in 2015. 
  • Revolights, another bike invention that uses LEDs to light up wheels in motion, was featured in the venture capital reality show Shark Tank, and has landed $1 million in funding. Only a finalist in the awards, it’s already on the shelves in select REI stores. 
  • The Titan Arm, a relatively affordable exoskeleton that can help with physical therapy, labor-intensive work, and rescue operations. The team continues to develop its prototype, racking up several awards and recognitions along the way. 
  • Last year’s winner MOM is a cheap, inflatable incubator targeted at developing countries. The 23-year-old inventor says he’s gained a big public response and is developing it for commercial production soon. 

Related: Why is Google Funding Another High-Dollar Science Award?

And because there are so many finalists and runners-up selected, and their projects are all on display on the contest website, it’s not just the winners that catch the imagination of the media, public, and investors. Of course, competition is still extremely tough, and the odds of winning are extremely slim. But the Dyson Awards offer a unique chance for young innovators to leverage a contest win into millions in venture capital.