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Innovative tech inspired by women for women wins 2022 James Dyson Award

Invention ‘Hatch’ provides postpartum support for mother’s experiencing limited mobility after childbirth.

This year’s James Dyson Award National Winner is Massey University's Sarah Lakomy, creator of Hatch, a medical bassinet designed for modern postpartum care.

The James Dyson Award is open annually to designers who think differently, to create products that work better. Sarah’s pioneering invention in the postpartum space seeks to provide support to mothers after childbirth - a period of rapid physical and emotional change where they report feeling overwhelmed and underprepared.

Dr Yvonne Anderson, Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland’s Department of Paediatrics and National James Dyson Award 2022 judge commented:“We were all impressed with Sarah’s identification of a real-world issue impacting new mothers, their babies and midwifery staff. The solution developed was simple, yet comprehensive, and was something we could see making a meaningful impact.”

The Invention

Hatch is a medical bassinet designed to reduce the physical demands on mothers experiencing limited mobility and pain after childbirth and enhance maternal proximity. This helps new mothers to build confidence through independently caring for their newborn, while also supporting midwives on the ward.

With a comfortable pod that can reach perpendicular to a mother’s bed for safe and less strenuous interactions, Hatch can be manipulated to support a variety of care tasks. These include skin-to-skin contact, feeding, nappy changing and medical check-ups, with minimal disruption for mother and baby. Hatch can be adjusted to any bed height or user height for transport between wards, making it a versatile asset for both mothers and health workers.

National James Dyson Award Winner 2022 Sarah Lakomy, said: “The purpose of Hatch is to create conversation and innovation in women’s healthcare, a field which has historically been side-lined, to create a product designed by women, with women, for women. I am over the moon to be this year’s winner and am so grateful to be able to take Hatch to the next stage of its development.”

Winning the national James Dyson Award will inject NZ$9,800 into Sarah’s project, advancing Hatch’s development stages and allowing the eventual exploration of a prototype in a clinical setting.

The Judges

The national winners were chosen by an external panel in collaboration with a Dyson engineer. The judges gathered to review the entries submitted from university students and graduates across the country, before selecting the New Zealand winner and two runners up.

Eddy Teo, Senior Engineering Manager and National James Dyson Award 2022 judge commented:“Hatch met the James Dyson Award design brief of solving a very real problem through iterative development, failing, learning through those failures, and then developing a design that works. By following the design journey, I was able to learn about some mothers’ experiences with limited mobility while trying to care for their newborn- a problem I was unaware of previously. I like that Hatch targeted the problem by introducing a wide range of motion and manoeuvrability with an adjustable cantilever form- a very clever engineering solution!”

This year, entries in New Zealand were judged by: Dr Yvonne Anderson, Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland's Department of Paediatrics, Emma Lewisham, Founder of Emma Lewisham Skincare, a luxury, science-led natural skincare line, Gosia Piatek, Founder and Creative Director of Kowtow, a sustainable fashion brand, and Maisie Panoho, Designer and National James Dyson Award Winner 2021.

The James Dyson Award National Runners Up

Runners up in this year’s competition include Massey University students Thomas Mackisack with his design SPOT CHECK, a personal skin cancer system, and Jillian Miller with her invention Somnum, a set of anaesthesia masks designed for animal patients.

All three finalists will move on to the international stage where a Top 20 will be selected by a panel of Dyson Engineers. The International Winner and Sustainability Winner will be handpicked by Sir James Dyson. The International Winner receives NZ$59,000 and NZ$9,800 for their university, and the Sustainability Winner receives NZ$59,000. International winners will be announced on 16 November 2022.

Spot Check: A personal skin cancer detection system - Thomas Mackisack, Massey University

Problem: More New Zealanders die from melanoma than on our roads. Early diagnosis is essential to survival, but current methods of personal detection are simple self-checking processes which requires users to physically monitor changes to their skin. Melanoma presents itself on the skin and the problem is not being able to see it, but discern it.

Solution: SPOT CHECK is a personal skin cancer detection system combining the power of advanced camera hardware with artificial intelligence to catch melanoma before it’s too late. It combines total body photography with a digital dermatoscope in a single harmonious tool scanning the entire body to identify and track suspicious spots and determine risk using an AI that gets smarter with time. 

Somnum: Anaesthesia masks designed for animal patients - Jillian Miller, Massey University

Problem: Current veterinary anaesthesia masks fail to create appropriate seals, and this causes gases to leak out into the atmosphere- these are called ‘waste gases’.

Solution: Somnum is a series of different-sized anaesthesia masks that are fitted to animal patients at veterinary clinics. It provides an adequate seal that prevents waste gas leaks.

About the James Dyson Award

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 competition has supported over 300 inventions with prize money, and is run by the James Dyson Foundation, an engineering-education charity funded by Dyson profits.

The James Dyson Award brief is to design something that solves a problem. This problem may be a frustration that we all face in daily life, or a global issue. The important thing is that the solution is effective and demonstrates considered design thinking.

Entries are judged first at the national level by a panel of external judges and a Dyson engineer. Each operating market awards a National winner and two National runners-up. From these winners, a panel of Dyson engineers then select an international shortlist of 20 entries. The top 20 projects are then reviewed by Sir James Dyson who selects his international winners.

International winners, chosen by Sir James Dyson, are awarded up to NZ$59,000. International runners-up receive NZ$9,800. Each National winner receives NZ$9,800.

The deadline to apply: midnight PST on 6 July 2022.

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