James attended London’s Byam Shaw art school but painting beautiful objects wasn’t enough. James wanted to make, and the Royal College of Art allowed just that. James studied architecture, but instead of colonnades and cladding, robust marine engineering was the order of the day. He developed a flat-hulled high-speed landing craft and, with it, his passion for engineering. Pretty soon, he’d also developed a new kind of wheelbarrow – one with a big fat ball that didn’t sink into mud and chunky feet for stability. All the while learning to take risks, make mistakes and use frustration as a fuel for creativity and solving problems. Problems like vacuum cleaners that lose suction. Could the cyclone technology he’d first spotted on a sawmill work in a vacuum cleaner? He ripped the dusty clogged bag from his old vacuum and replaced it with a crude prototype. 5,126 prototypes later: Dual Cyclone™ technology and the first bagless vacuum cleaner. During the five years it took to develop his first vacuum, James was also battling. First to convince other manufacturers to embrace his new technology. Then to protect his invention when they copied it. It’s enough to give you a complex. And it did. James’ experience informs the way Dyson works today. Keeping our inventions secret. Protecting our ideas. Always taking risks. Like developing a washing machine with 2-drums; emission-filtering diesel exhausts; clean air hand dryers; balls instead of wheels; robots – even a new type of school to get young people into engineering. Always new and better.
It took 15 years of frustration, perseverance, and over 5,000 prototypes for James to finally launch the Dyson DC01 vacuum cleaner under his own name. Within 22 months it became the best-selling cleaner in the UK."I wanted to give up almost every day. But one of the things I did when I was young was long distance running, from a mile up to ten miles. They wouldn't let me run more than ten miles at school - in those days they thought you'd drop down dead or something. And I was quite good at it, not because I was physically good, but because I had more determination. I learned determination from it." "A lot of people give up when the world seems to be against them, but that's the point when you should push a little harder. I use the analogy of running a race. It seems as though you can’t carry on, but if you just get through the pain barrier, you'll see the end and be okay. Often, just around the corner is where the solution will happen." Home to 350 engineers, the Dyson Research, Design and Development Centre in Wiltshire was designed by architect Chris Wilkinson. Engineered to reduce environmental impact, there's no air conditioning - displacement ventilation is used to blow cool air in at floor level while warm air naturally rises and is dispersed through vents in the roof. New ideas are the lifeblood of Dyson. Every year, we invest half our profits back into harnessing them at our research and development laboratory in Wiltshire. There are 350 engineers and scientists based there. Thinking, testing, breaking, questioning. They’re a varied bunch, too. Many are design engineers developing new ideas and technology. Then there are specialists who test and improve different aspects of each machine, from the way they sound to what they pick up. Some will have years of experience. Others are fresh out of universities like the Royal College of Art, Brunel or Loughborough. They share some eclectic engineering pastimes - from building vintage cars to reconstructing medieval catapults. One design engineer also has a jet engine he’ll fire up in the back garden once in a while.
Today you can find Dyson machines in 45 countries. But Dyson has always been a global company - James first licensed his revolutionary cyclone technology to a Japanese company, which sold the G-Force machine in the 1980s. James Dyson has called on government to take immediate action to make science and engineering central to its thinking. With advice from leading industry figures including Sir John Rose, Chief Executive of Rolls Royce, Sir Anthony Bamford, Chairman of JCB, and Sir Christopher Gent, Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, James has developed a series of policy suggestions aimed at boosting Britain’s economy by inspiring and incentivising real, long-term action to make Britain a leading high tech nation. The Dyson Taskforce has considered a breadth of issues - including culture, education, universities and research and development – targeted at bringing about a step change in both public and political attitudes to science and engineering. Proposals include reforming the school curriculum to teach pure science; a number of new routes to improve the quality of teachers and teaching; offering students more flexible courses with industry experience and improving tax advantages for start-up businesses.
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Zone of delivery: Metropolitan France, Corsica and Europe