NeoVent Wins 2015 US Round of James Dyson Award


NeoVent, designed by two Western Michigan University students, has been chosen as the US National Winner of the 2015 James Dyson Award. This year’s competition has seen a record number of entries, with 690 entered designs worldwide.

Stephen John (left) and Joseph Barnett (right) with their product, Neovent

Stephen John (left) and Joseph Barnett (right) with their product, Neovent

The World Health Organization lists respiratory problems as one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of five. NeoVent enables healthcare workers around the world to deliver safe, low-cost, low-energy, and easy-to-use noninvasive positive pressure ventilation to treat premature infants in respiratory distress.

The winning design by Stephen John and Joseph Barnett was inspired by the designers’ experience working in Central America, the Middle East, and Asia. Globally, an estimated one million babies born die each year due to prematurity and respiratory problems. John and Barnett realized the need for affordable medical equipment to address this issue, particularly in developing countries. NeoVent is their solution.

“We plan on utilizing the funds from the James Dyson Award in clinical trials and in manufacturing a second round of production-level devices, hopefully bringing us closer to our goal of saving neonatal lives,” says John.

NeoVent will receive $3,500 from the James Dyson Foundation, and progress to the international stage of the award. Accompanying NeoVent into the next stage of the competition are four US finalists: HandHero, GlucoSense, Connect, and Flo.


HandHero, designed by Stanford University students Bryan Quintanilla, Jana Lim, Kimberly Souza, Maria Langat, Michael Beck, Lawrence Cai, and Alex Lin, is an innovative hand splint that enables burn victims in rural areas with limited access to medical care to regain hand function and more quickly rejoin their community. The splint is comprised of three connected adjustable slats which slowly straighten over time, preventing debilitating scar tissue from forming and allowing the hand to heal in the correct position.



Glucosense, which was designed by Kayla Wilson, a Clemson University student, is a low-cost glucose monitoring device that utilizes strips made in a desktop printer for patients who cannot afford traditional test strips. Low production costs and ease of manufacturing result in a meter that is accessible to patients that previously could not receive the monitoring they needed.


Connect, designed by University of Huston student Matthew Burton, is a magnetic adapter for electrical outlets which simplifies the insertion and removal of plugs, reduces clutter, and requires very little effort or electrical experience to install. Its unique design allows for pairing various sized plugs, reduces the chance of tripping, and extends device life.


Flo, designed by Mariko Higaki Iwai, Sohyun Kim, and Tatijana Vasily from the Art Center College of Design, is a toolkit that supports girls living in poverty to wash, dry, and carry reusable sanitary pads. The toolkit provides both physical and emotional comfort, while giving control back to girls during their menstrual cycle. Compared to regular hand washing method with a barrel, Flo uses half the water and detergent.


The James Dyson Award is run by the James Dyson Foundation, a registered charity supporting design, technology and engineering education, medical research charities, and local community projects. The James Dyson Foundation works with schools and universities across the US and the globe.

The award currently runs in 20 countries. The brief is simple: design something that solves a problem. The contest was open to university level students (and recent graduates) studying product design, industrial design, and engineering. The international prize is $45,000 for the student and $7,500 for their university department. International runners-up will receive $7,500 each.

Each of the 20 participating countries will select a national winner and four finalists. A panel of Dyson engineers will narrow this pool of projects down further to the top twenty; these will be announced on September 17th, with the international winner and two runners-up announced on November 10th.