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James Dyson

Chairman and Founder of Dyson Ltd

James was brought up in rural Norfolk, UK. Ignoring the advice of his careers adviser to become as estate agent, James headed to London to study at the Royal College of Art.

After graduating from the RCA, James was employed by engineering company, Rotork, where he designed his first project, the Sea Truck; a high-speed landing craft.

For James, frustration has proved the mother of invention. A wheelbarrow which sank in the mud was the inspiration for Ballbarrow – which had a large inflatable ball instead of a wheel.

Then in 1979, when James bought the then top of the range vacuum cleaner, he became frustrated with how it instantly clogged and began to lose suction. During a chance visit to a local sawmill, James noticed how the sawdust was removed from the air by large industrial cyclones. Could that principle work on a smaller scale, in a vacuum cleaner? He took his vacuum apart and rigged it up with a cardboard cyclone. He then began to clean the room with it. Amazingly it picked up more than his old bagged machine. The world’s first vacuum cleaner without a bag.

It took 15 years of frustration, perseverance, and over 5,000 prototypes, for James to finally launch the Dyson DCO1 vacuum cleaner under his own name. Within 18 months it became the best-selling cleaner in the UK. Dyson now exports to 50 countries and employees 2,500 people worldwide, many of whom are scientists and engineers.

Dyson continues to develop new and different technology, such as the Dyson digital motor, the Dyson Airblade™ hand dryer and the Dyson Air Multiplier™ fan

James continues to work alongside his team of engineers and scientists, developing new technologies to overcome everyday frustrations.

Getting Women Into Engineering Is Vital

The UK faces a deficit of 340,000 engineers by 2020. Only 6% of Britain's engineers are female. China produces 20-times more engineers than the UK every year, and one in three of them are women. At school and university women outperform men in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Indeed, the few who do become engineers enjoy it - 98% of women engineers find their job rewarding. Who wouldn't? It is therefore incomprehensible that 93% of parents would not support their daughters in pursuing a career in engineering.
23/06/2015 09:51 BST

Invest in Engineers Now to Power Our Future

The government this week signed an agreement which means our looming energy crisis will be solved by nuclear power stations built by the French and owned, in part, by the Chinese. This demonstrates the impact of Britain's skills shortage and our lack of ambition. To top it all, they have warned us that the dearth of hi-tech engineering skills in our economy may hold them back. The skills shortage is not a problem confined to the crucially important energy sector, it's systemic. We need more engineers and scientists.
22/10/2013 08:24 BST

London Olympics: Function and Form

For the two weeks of the Olympics, London will be the most watched city in the world, seen by over a billion people. More than just an event for sporting achievement, the games are, for two weeks, a projection of London. But a look at the legacy of past games offers a cautionary tale that hosting the Olympics needs to be seen not just as a short-term event but a long-term investment. If China was the Olympics' golden darling, Britain is the austerity Olympics. The elaborate games in Beijing reflected a booming economy -- exports had grown a whopping 22%. The UK has taken a more modest approach: a reflection of a sobering market and steep cuts in government spending.
27/07/2012 20:36 BST

In Support of the Start-up

In the UK, I've advocated for R&D tax credits to help ease the financial burden felt by many startups. And it's working. Small businesses often operate at a loss for the first few years. Tax credits allow these small businesses to make investments in workers, infrastructure or equipment - the freedom to build new ideas along with bottom line.
25/03/2012 22:40 BST

The Award For Engineering Goes To...

The US now graduates more visual and performing arts majors than engineers. The same is true in the UK, where a recent survey found that while 4% of teenage girls want to become engineers and 14% scientists, 32% wanted to be models.
25/02/2012 00:27 GMT

Osborne and Gove Must Fuse the Link Between the Economy and Education

While Osborne calls for a 'march of the makers', Gove considers dropping Design and Technology - the font of modern making - from the national curriculum. Inspirational design and technology lessons nurture problem solvers - people with the good ideas to be developed and exported.
10/09/2011 00:05 BST