SafetyNet Design Wins 2012 International James Dyson Award

Royal College graduate Dan Watson has won the annual International James Dyson Award 2012, with his SafetyNet design, a sustainable solution for trawler fishing.

The goal of SafetyNet is to significantly decrease the number of juvenile fish caught during trawling. The holes in regular nets close up when under tension and many small fish are unable to escape, or are injured while trying to do so.

“Escape Rings” hold the mesh open. Circular lights act as emergency exit signs, making the rings more visible and guiding the fish out. The electronic devices are powered by an on-board energy harvesting system, so once the devices are fitted the fishermen don’t have to think about them again. And when a net reaches the end of its working life, the Escape Rings can be removed and fitted to the new one.

Dan was inspired when a BBC article alerted him to some of the issues around the problem. 40% of the global population are dependent on fish as a primary source of animal protein, yet commercial fisheries are struggling to fish sustainably. Half of fish caught in the North Sea are thrown back dead, because they’re too small, leading to diminishing stocks. This is a global problem, which needs to be solved to guarantee a reliable food supply for future generations.

See more project details in the video below.

Particular attention has been paid to finding materials that can withstand the rough nature of the fishing industry and the marine environment. Fishermen have been consulted at every stage of design and prototyping and their support has helped immensely in developing a product that’s usable, fit for purpose and affordable. The rings will now be trialled in conjunction with a UK government body.

Sir James Dyson, the founder of the awards, said “SafetyNet shows how young graduates like Dan can tackle global issues ignored by established industries in new and inventive ways.”

Since graduating, Dan has launched SafetyNet Technologies to commercialise his design. He’ll use his £10,000 prize money to develop the project further and finalise testing.

Competition runner-up The BETH Project (US) received a £2,000 grant for a self-adjusting prosthetic limb socket.

The BETH Project was driven by the need for affordable, well-fitting prosthetic sockets throughout the world. The current manufacturing method for most sockets involves a time intensive artisan process requiring specialised tools and workshops.

There are over 30 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America who require a prosthesis. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated a prosthesis is, it’s virtually useless without a well-fitting socket to attach it to the residual limb.

The BETH Project Socket is designed to be adjustable, robust and accessible. Find out more in the video below.

Visit the Dyson website for further details of the winners and the other competition entries.