Young inventors invited to reel in Dyson award

The award sees student designers and engineers from 18 countries compete for £30,000 to develop their invention, while a further £10,000 goes to their university department. There are also cash prizes for runners-up and winners in each country.

Last year’s overall winner, Briton Dan Watson, invented a fishing net with a built-in “emergency exit” which lets young, unmarketable fish escape, reports The Telegraph.

It has a series of rings which allow fish of the wrong size or type to swim free, tackling the almost 50pc of catches which are thrown back.

Mr Watson, a Royal College of Art graduate, is currently engaged in final testing of the product at sea and is in talks with manufacturers about the first production batch.

“The technical and manufacturing side are looking good – now we’re talking to the relevant bodies about regulation. There are a lot of hoops to jump through,” he said. “Winning the award has definitely accelerated the whole process. The money sped up developing the prototypes, but the exposure also helps. Some people get in touch just to say, ‘Who do you think you are?’ But then you have a chat and end up with useful advice.”

The 2011 winner, Australian Edward Linacre, invented Airdrop, which allows crops to be grown in very dry regions.

Sir James said: “Young design engineers have the ability to develop tangible technologies, which can change lives. The award rewards those who have the persistence and tenacity to develop their ideas – it is an exciting but challenging process.”

The 2013 James Dyson Award is open for entries until August 1.