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The James Dyson Award 2020

At-home breast cancer screening device and a novel new material to generate renewable electricity both win global prize

19 November 2020

2020 was a record-breaking year for the James Dyson Award, which has now financially supported 250 promising inventions from young engineers and scientists around the world. Despite this year’s context, the Award received its highest number of entries, and the quality was exceptional – highlighting the ingenuity of young inventors. The two winners, who each receive £30,000, solve significant problems of global importance: women missing breast cancer screenings and sustainable methods to effectively generate renewable energy.


The Blue Box is the International winner of the James Dyson Award 2020. Invented by 23-year-old Judit Giró Benet it is a new way to detect breast cancer, at-home, using a urine sample.

AuREUS System Technology is the first ever Sustainability Award winner of the James Dyson Award 2020. Invented by 27-year-old Carvey Ehren Maigue. It is a new material, made from waste crop, which converts UV light into renewable energy.


The Tyre Collective is a device that captures tyre-wear particles at the wheel of a vehicle, to be recycled for future applications. A team of students from Imperial University and the Royal College of Art, UK, invented the device.

Scope, engineered by students from the University of Waterloo, Canada, is a new lens using liquid crystals that enables a lossless camera zoom.

Commenting on the 2020 James Dyson Award, Sir James Dyson said,

“Young people want to change the world, and the engineers, scientists and designers who enter the James Dyson Award demonstrate that they can. We have observed a growing number of ideas for healthcare and improving sustainability, and it seemed invidious to choose between such noble ideas, so we created two prizes this year, to support two equally worthy inventions. Judit and Carvey are highly impressive individuals who have made significant breakthroughs, I hope that they can use the James Dyson Award as a springboard to future success.”

International winner – The Blue Box, invented by Judit Giró Benet

The problem

This year’s International winner of the James Dyson Award was inspired by the inventor’s mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer. Judit realised that there is a global need for a less invasive and more accessible screening process for breast cancer. Currently screening requires women to attend hospitals or medical facilities and undergo an invasive, sometimes painful, and often costly procedure. As a result, it is estimated that 40% of women skip their breast cancer screening mammogram, resulting in 1 in 3 cases being detected late, leading to a lower chance of survival .

The solution

The Blue Box, invented by Judit Giro Benet from Tarragona, Spain, is an at-home, biomedical breast cancer testing device that uses a urine sample and an AI algorithm to detect early signs of breast cancer. It empowers women to take charge of their health with a non-invasive, pain free, non-irradiating, low-cost alternative which you can do regularly at-home.

The device performs a chemical analysis of urine samples and sends the results to the cloud. Here, the AI based algorithm reacts to specific metabolites in the urine, providing the user with a fast diagnosis. The device is linked to an App which controls all communications to the user, immediately putting them in touch with a medical professional if the sample tests positive.

The next few years are crucial for Judit as she and her team work towards the final stages of prototyping and data analytics software at the University of California Irvine, ready for human studies and clinical trials alongside vital patent filings.

On winning the International prize, Judit says,

“The Blue Box has the potential to make cancer screening a part of daily life. It can help to change the way society fights breast cancer to ensure that more women can avoid an advanced diagnosis. The day that James Dyson told me that I had won the International prize was a real turning point as the prize money will allow me to patent more extensively and expedite research and software development I am doing at the University of California Irvine. But, most of all, hearing that he believes in my idea has given me the confidence I need at this vital point.”

James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer at Dyson, said,

“Unfortunately, I have witnessed first-hand the harrowing effects of cancer and as scientists and engineers we should do anything we can to overcome this terrible disease. Judit is using hardware, software and AI together, in an impressive way, to create a well-designed product that could make cancer screening part of everyday life. The data which The Blue Box collects and stores in the cloud will provide insight which can enable more precise treatment and expand global knowledge of Cancer. She deserves all the support she can get as she navigates the highly complex system of medical approvals.”

Hear more from Judit on the Dyson Newsroom here.

  • According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of women skip their breast cancer screening mammogram, resulting in 1 in 3 cases being detected late which leads to a lower chance of survival. 41% of those who skip mammograms say it is due to pain.
  • Breast Cancer Now, the leading UK breast cancer charity, warns that nearly one million women have missed potentially lifesaving NHS breast screening due to COVID-19.
  • The American Cancer Society predicts that breast cancer will account for 30% of all cancers diagnosed in the US by 2020.

Sustainability winner – AuREUS System Technology, invented by Carvey Ehren Maigue

The problem

Many renewable energy sources suffer from intermittency: wind power and solar power can only be generated in very specific environmental conditions. Solar panels mostly capture and convert visible light into renewable energy and must be facing the sun to do so. Current solar farms are only built horizontally, never vertically and often placed on prime arable farmland, meaning the land can’t be used to grow crops. Yet, there are thousands of windows and other surfaces that could be repurposed.

The solution

The James Dyson Award’s first ever Sustainability Award winner is tackling the challenge of how we could more effectively generate renewable energy from light and upcycling waste in the process.

AuREUS, invented by Carvey Ehren Maigue from Mapua University in Manila, the Philippines, is a material that can be attached to a pre-existing structure or surface to harvest UV light and convert it into visible light to generate electricity in a way that traditional solar panels can’t. Whether the sun is shining, or it is cloudy, Carvey’s material will still generate electricity as the particles in his material absorb UV light causing them to glow. As the particles ‘rest’ they remove excess energy and this ‘bleeds’ out of the material as visible light which can then be transformed into electricity. AuREUS has the potential to turn more solar energy into renewable energy than traditional solar panels and it can function fully even when not in direct sunlight. Current testing suggests that it can produce electricity 48% of the time, compared to 10-25% in conventional photovoltaic cells .

The Philippines is victim of severe weather disruption and Farmers can lose much of their produce as a result. Rather than leave the crops to rot, Carvey sought to use them as a UV absorbent compound for his substrate. After testing nearly 80 different types of local crops, Carvey found nine that show high potential for long-term use. The substrate, when applied to materials, is durable, translucent and can be moulded into different shapes. Carvey is already looking into how he can develop his material for use beyond windows and walls, such as fabrics and embedded into cars, boats and airplanes.

“AuREUS is impressive in the way it makes sustainable use of waste crops, but I’m particularly impressed by Carvey’s resolve and determination. Having failed to make the national stage of the Award in 2018, he stuck at it and further developed his idea – this will be a very important character trait as he embarks on the long road to commercialisation. I wish him every success because, as a farmer, I have always been concerned about covering fertile, food-producing, agricultural land in photovoltaic cells. Carvey’s invention demonstrates a convincing way to create clean energy on existing structures, like windows, within cities.” James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer at Dyson.


Carvey first submitted his idea to the James Dyson Award in 2018 but did not progress to the Awarding stages of the competition. Then, his technology could only be applied to windows and used a chemical compound as the key ingredient in the substrate. 2 years on, with further R&D into applications and using upcycled waste crops, Carvey’s invention is the James Dyson Award’s first ever Sustainability Award winner. His persistence to improve his idea and learn from setbacks mirrors James Dyson’s ethos on failure – a key component to the design process fostered at Dyson.

After speaking to James Dyson, Carvey said,

“Winning the James Dyson Award is both a beginning and an end. It marked the end of years of doubting whether my idea would find global relevance. It marks the beginning of the journey of finally bringing AuREUS to the world. I want to create a better form of renewable energy that uses the world’s natural resources, is close to people's lives, forging achievable paths and rallying towards a sustainable and regenerative future.”

Hear more from Carvey on the Dyson Newsroom here.

  • Fossil fuels continue to account for over 81% of global energy product according to the International Energy Agency.
  • It is estimated that, if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, global supplies of gas and oil will deplete by 2060. Accessible and effective clean, renewable alternatives need to be prioritised.
  • Solar panels can process 15-22% of solar energy into usable energy. This is dependent on placement, orientation and weather.

The James Dyson Award International Runners-up

Scope – Ishan Mishra, Holden Beggs, Zhen Le Cao, Fernando J. Pena Cantu, Alisha Bhanji from the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Problem: Mobile phone cameras are unable to achieve high quality photos when zoomed-in, as the lenses don’t use optical zoom which is used on conventional cameras.

Solution: Scope uses liquid crystals confined in a cell. When voltages are applied to the crystals it allows for the lens’ optical wave front to be dynamically shaped without physical movement, enabling a lossless camera zoom.">The Tyre Collective – Siobhan Anderson, Hanson Cheng, M Deepak Mallaya, and Hugo Richardson from the Innovation Design Engineering MA/MSc programme at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, UK.

Problem: Every time a vehicle brakes, accelerates or turns a corner, the tyres wear down and tiny particles become airborne, producing half a million tonnes of tyre particles annually in Europe alone . These particles are small enough to become airborne and can have adverse effect on health. They account for up to 50% of PM2.5 pollution from road transport and will account 10% of all PM2.5 by 2030. More are swept into waterways and oceans, eventually, entering the food chain .

Solution: The Tyre Collective aims to reduce this invisible pollution by capturing the tyre particles at the source. The team’s device is fitted to the wheel and uses electrostatics to collect particles as they are emitted from the tyres, by taking advantage of various air flows around a spinning wheel. Once captured, the particles can be recycled and reused in new tyres or other materials such as ink.

Notes to editors:

The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson, to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, the James Dyson Foundation and James Dyson Award encourage aspiring engineers, to apply their knowledge and discover new ways to improve lives through technology. Since the competition first opened in 2005, James Dyson has contributed over £100m to boundary-breaking concepts in education and other charitable causes. The Award has supported nearly 250 inventions with prize money.

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