Most of our readers and hopefully the majority of colleagues will by now be aware of the Janet Wood Innovation Awards which began over a year ago and for which this year’s deadline is fast approaching. The competition has proved to be extremely popular and a number of prize-winning products, developed by competition entrants are already selling well around the world.
You may not yet know however that, inspired by this initiative, a special version of the awards aimed at secondary age students has been developed and has recently reached its final stages. The aim is to harness the imagination and inventiveness of the young scientists, engineers and technicians of the future, inspire them to work together to come up with the best, most innovative and yet practical ideas and hopefully produce some wonderful enrichment devices for use in lab animal science as a result.
Mid-January saw the final stage of this first ever JWIA Kids Challenge Project hosted by the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology whose illustrious sponsors include Cambridge University Health Partners and the Sanger Institute. Students from the Academy were asked to come up with ideas for new enrichment products and then pitch them to fellow students and members of staff. It was decided there would be a winner and a ‘wild card’ from each group. Once the winners from each group had been selected the students then had to present to a group of experts in a Dragon’s Den scenario. The ‘Dragons’ where colleagues from within the industry, from Unit Managers to sales representatives. The Head Dragon was, appropriately enough, our very own and fairly youthful Ryan Hill.
The whole process was really enjoyable for all concerned and proved, once and for all, just how imaginative and creative today’s youngsters can be if given a chance. We’ll tell you all about the three winners and their excellent ideas in next month’s issue but suffice to say that you will be suitably impressed by the ingenuity and the understanding shown by the competitors. We may well see some of these ideas translated into really useful enrichment devices in the not too distant future. Watch this space!