A student's cartridge-based syringe system designed to help the victims of disasters in developing countries has won a prestigious innovation award and praise from top plastics industry experts.
Chris Natt, a student at the Royal College of Art, secured £1,000 plus a placement with one of the world's renowned suppliers of high-performance materials such as polycarbonates and polyurethanes, Bayer MaterialScience, at their headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, for his 'Project Sting', after winning the Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) 2013 award - the longest running student plastics design award in Europe.
Chris designed a hypodermic syringe that replaces the traditional three-part syringe commonly used for vaccinations with a system incorporating innovative features: a re-usable master element accommodating a vaccine cartridge, and a flexible diaphragm to dispense vaccine. In addition, the syringe reduces the spread of infection by preventing accidental needle puncture of the skin, and it also includes anti re-use features. One of the judges, Dr Robin Kent, Managing Director of Tangram Technology, and an internationally recognised plastics processing and materials specialist, said: "Chris Natt is a worthy winner. His innovative use of plastics enables a new design for clean and effective drug delivery."
Chris has already applied for a patent for the novel concept, and can now apply for support from the DIP mentoring scheme, newly introduced in 2013 to offer post-award support to all the finalists with the goal of helping them take their design ideas closer to commercial realisation.
The second placed student, James Scott (Northumbria University) won £500 plus a placement with new competition sponsor Innovate Product Design, for his ‘Rain Pod’, which provides shelter during monsoons and also harvests clean drinking water. The third prize of £250 and a placement with leading product innovation consultancy PDD, was awarded to Thomas Hamilton (Loughborough University) for his ‘Zebro’ leg splint based on a secure binding system controlled for the first time by a ratchet dial.
The competition brief had been to design a product - mainly in plastics - that would help to alleviate the suffering of disaster victims. It had to be readily transportable in high volume to stricken areas and easy to use in potentially chaotic and challenging environments. Consideration had also to be given to the re-use and disposal of the product.
DIP chairman, Martin Sixsmith, formerly from Bayer MaterialScience, the headline industry sponsor, said: "We need to be innovative and look at new ways to tackle any disaster, and this competition has been the perfect platform for design students across the UK and Ireland to be creative and design a product that could help make a big difference.”
Commenting on the newly introduced DIP mentoring scheme, student, Josh Allsopp, whose Biodegradable Disaster Casket was highly commended, said: "I have just started my new placement at a plastics forming and fabricating specialist... very exciting. If it hadn't been for this competition I would never have got the placement, so the award has already had a massive and positive impact, and that was before we even had the award ceremony."