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23-year-old inventor picks up Dyson award for life-saving incubator

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 A new inflatable incubator that could save the lives of millions of premature babies has won this year’s James Dyson Award

James Roberts, a 23-year old product design student from Loughborough University, has designed a simple, low-cost inflatable incubator to help reduce mortality rates in premature babies across the developing world.

Today, he receives the international James Dyson Award for his invention, beating competition from Japan’s QOLO, which allows wheelchair-bound users to stand up, Suncayr, a Canadian colour-changing marker pen that tells users when to reapply their sunscreen, and smart injury detection suit BRUISE, designed by fellow Brit Dan Garrett.

More than one in 10 babies around the globe are born prematurely, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. According to the World Health Organisation, 75pc of deaths resulting from premature birth could be avoided if basic incubation technology was available.

“I had the idea when I was watching TV in my student flat and a programme came on about premature babies dying in Syria due to a lack of incubation,” Roberts told The Telegraph. “I couldn’t understand why this problem still existed today, so I decided to invent a product myself.”

His invention, MOM, is an inflatable incubator that provides a stable heat environment, humidification and jaundice lighting. It has been designed for deployment in the developing world and in disaster areas or refugee camps, costing just £250 to manufacture, test and transport to the desired location. The design provides the same performance as a £30,000 modern incubation system.

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