James Dyson Award India Winner, runners up for 2020 announced

Earth Tatva, an invention by Shashank Nimkar, a student of National Institute of Design Ahmedabad is the winner. Made under zero-waste manufacturing process, adhering to the principles of circular economy; and supports United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12, Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI) has reported Earth Tatva to be 35% stronger than traditional ceramics. Runners up postion is a tie between IIT Madras and NID Ahmedabad teams, both of whom have provided solutions for visually challenged  

This year’s Indian national James Dyson Award winner is Shashank Nimkar from the National Institute of Design, Ahmadabad who has attempted to solve waste problem from manufacturing process with his invention – Earth Tatva.

Earth Tatva is inspired by the concept of circular economy, where waste is seen as a design flaw, and the focus is on developing mono-material that can be recycled for multiple production cycles under closed-loop zero-waste manufacturing. Winning the national leg of the James Dyson Award will inject £2,000 (approx. INR190,000) into the Earth Tatva project.

The Earth Tatva is a unique material composition that reduces mining for natural resources by up to 60% through recycling of post-industrial fired ceramic waste. This unique material composition is made under zero-waste manufacturing process, adhering to the principles of circular economy; also supporting United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 12) of ensuring sustainable and responsible consumption and production patterns.

Shashank speaking on his win said: “I have always been fascinated by the idea of turning waste into a valuable resource. While working on design solutions, I often wonder what happens to the products & materials at their end of life. On this project, I kept asking myself how I can add shared value from the inside & not just from a functional or aesthetic point of view. That is how the idea of a universal material was conceived against making a product. Since day one, the aim was to make a closed-loop material that can be incorporated in a zero-waste manufacturing process.”

For Earth Tatva, Shashank procures the pulverized form of post-industrial ceramic rejects called ‘grog’, from the surrounding production cluster, which forms the major portion of the raw material (between 60% – 70%), and virgin clay. This virgin clay acts as a natural binder that helps in giving shape to the grog. As clay naturally converts to ceramics after the firing process, this essentially is like working with a mono-material, which is a huge advantage while upcycling or recycling a material. Using casting method, called ‘slip-casting’, this material can then be mould into any shape and size. The high proportion of grog means that the composition has a quicker drying cycle increasing its production yield, and also uses lesser energy to fire. It matures at 1120 °C where virgin materials matures at 1220 °C.

The Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI), a national research institute under Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India (Ministry of Science and Technology), has reported Earth Tatva to be 35% stronger than traditional ceramics; and hence doing more and better with less.

Shashank is currently working towards converting the Earth Tatva project into a start-up, and has received numerous inquiries from various individuals and production units about this innovation. “These tableware products are in demand with the environmentally-conscious hospitality businesses. The businesses who want to serve their guests while operating on a low carbon footprint and the ones serving organic food items have shown interest to use these recycled ceramic wares. I am also in talks with designers and architects known for their sustainable and unique approach towards their work who have shown interest to use this material for their projects,” he said.

Previously, Shashank and Earth Tatva has also received numerous other accolades. It was recognized as circular economy pioneer by Ellen MacArthur Foundation, London, it has received the REX Karmaveer Chakra Award, and was adjudicated as the winner for Sustainability by Design, Indus University. Earth Tatva was also one of the finalists at TIP Summit, Abu Dhabi; and at the Green Product Awards, Munich.

This year, The James Dyson Awards India received 241 entries, out of which 93 entries were shortlisted basis their adherence to the submission parameters, and shared with the submission parameters, and shared with the members of Jury.

The Runners Up

For runners-up, there was a tie between the team from Indian Institute of Technology Madras (Chennai) that submitted their invention Cube; and the team from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad for their entry Drishti.


Problem: Unfortunately, around 285 million people globally and 40 million people in India have either a partial; or a complete visual impairment.  Absence of a compact, all-in-one device for blind useful for both navigation and faster communication (major issues) because of low field of view (while using a single camera) and slow response of current systems (Orcam) pushed the team from IIT madras to understand the detailed requirements of the visually challenged, and work towards a solution.

Solution: CUBE is a compact assistive device that fits into a smartphone port to help the blind self-navigate through space, recognise people and objects with the help on an additional camera, as well as type, learn & read braille with tiny refreshable braille cells.

Team Members: Sundar Raman P, Adil Mohammed, Shivam Maheshwari, Andrea Elizabeth Biju


Problem: The monetary transaction is heavily vision dependent, and something that is often taken for granted. But for the visually impaired, this simple task of the transaction of money is not so straightforward, and which is where the team from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad tries to find a solution and allow them to perform this task with ease.

Solution: Drishti is a product, designed to empower the visually challenged to identify the Indian currency note on their own. Through the combination of the width of the template to the height of the template, a person can identify any one of the 12 notes that are currently in current circulation.

Team Members: Mrudul Chilmulwar, Mani Teja Lingala