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Wales’ future inventors recognised at 21st annual Innovation Awards

WJEC Innovation Awards at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay. Photo credit: Simon Ridgway

Budding inventors from across Wales were recognised for their exceptional creations at this year’s WJEC Innovation Awards ceremony at the Pierhead Building.

Thomas Jenkins, 18, from Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun in Cynon Valley was crowned the overall winner for his ‘stacking chair aid’, which helps move multiple chairs once they’ve been stacked.

Welsh inventors have been instrumental in bringing the world some of its most game-changing inventions including the modern microphone, X-ray and radar technology. The annual Innovation Awards, in partnership with the Welsh Government, aims to encourage future generations to continue this legacy by challenging the design of everyday products and services, and finding innovative solutions to problems we face each day.

Thomas said: “I was inspired to come up with my design after spending time in my local Costa while revising for my A levels.

“I noticed that the floor by the door was always scuffed , and the staff struggled with moving the outdoor seating inside at the end of the day. The floor looked messy, and the manager had  to keep paying  to get it cleaned .

“I went through a fair few prototypes, but I’ve always been inspired by inventor James Dyson who isn’t afraid of failure.

“My final design looked nothing like I originally thought, but it worked perfectly, and I found it so rewarding to show the product to the team at Costa who all said it would be a massive help to them.

“I couldn’t believe it when it was announced that I’d won both the AS Level prize and the overall prize.

“This has ignited my interest in design and in the future I’d love to either do a CAD design apprenticeship or study at design building at university.”

Other awards went to Jack Hughson for his Fencing Pro device to help farmers be more efficient, Q Misell for their ingenious recycling bin design, Lucy Clarke for her aid for refilling large water bottles, Morgan Rhys Clewer-Evans for his farmgate safety device and Amy Owen for her interactive activity book encouraging young people to grow sunflowers.

This year’s awards ceremony at The Pierhead Building was attended by students, parents and teachers who came along to see the most original project work by students studying Design and Technology at GCSE, AS and A level.

WJEC chief executive, Ian Morgan, said: “Each young person who entered these awards has shown incredible hard work and dedication in developing these innovative ideas and bringing them to life. Every single person who has been shortlisted here today should be immensely proud of their achievement.

“These young people will be the next generation of inventors and problem solvers meeting challenges of the future. Their unique ability to think outside the box, and develop creative solutions to everyday problems, is a vital skill and one Wales needs to remain competitive on.

“I’m sure these are just the first of many exciting achievements to come for Thomas and all the other winners and young people shortlisted here today. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for each of them.”

The Innovation Awards is an annual competition partly funded by the Welsh Government. The ceremony was hosted by Kirsty Williams, the Minister for Education, who said:

“I’m really pleased to present the Student Innovation Awards again this year.

“The high standards of entries are fine examples of what Wales can achieve through science, technology and innovation. The awards showcase the talent, the enthusiasm and the commitment of our young people across Wales.”

“Congratulations to everyone who made it to the finals!”