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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

DIC banner 2022-23


The Davidson Inventors Challenge (DIC) is a collaborative school outreach initiative between our department and the Association of Science Technology and Innovation (ASTI) in Malaysia led by one of our alumni Dr Yunus Yasin and aimed at Year 11 and 12 students in the UK interested in STEM.

Through a team project participating students will get to use science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills to research a problem and come up with a sustainable and innovative solution to tackle it. 

The competition was originally launched in 2020 in honour to our Emeritus Professor John Davidson, a former Head of our old Chemical Engineering Department, who sadly passed away in December 2019. He was known as “the founding father of fluidisation” and worked in chemical engineering since 1952, including the areas of fluid flow, process dynamics, gas absorption and fluidisation technology, remaining very active until his death. He was passionate about his students, interested in their learning  and well-being and enjoyed their questions. He was always committed to the very highest standards of teaching and research and often had simple solutions relying on a profound understanding of the fundamentals. 

The main task requires participating student teams to research sustainable development goals, select a problem, and come up with a sustainable, innovative solution that makes a positive global impact.

Here are past winning inventions:

2021 winners:The Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston-upon-Thames A biodegradable facemask made of potato starch
2022  winners: Eastbourne College A solar water sterilisation system 

Watch the latest DIC promo video 

    The theme: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    The theme for the challenge is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by the United Nations to address global challenges as noted in the SDGs strategy. The teams are therefore required to first select a challenge/problem area  they'd like to work on from a list of sustainable development goals to work towards and come up with a potential solution towards achieving the selected SDG.

    Get ready to solve problems, get creative and innovate! 

    Choose a challenge, research a problem, and find a sustainable innovative solution whilst putting chemical engineering and biotechnology skills into practice.

    Participating  students will have a go at problem-solving using critical-thinking skills to evaluate the best innovative solution to a current problem or global challenge. These are key skills chemical engineers learn, develop, and put into practice day-in, day-out. In this way, they will not only get first-hand experience and become familiar with the diverse applications of chemical engineering and biotechnology, but they will also learn about the important role chemical engineers and biotechnologists play in tackling the toughest global challenges.


    Download the initiative poster to share in your school and register your team by 8 January 2023. All registered teams will receive 

    Entry criteria and key dates

    Entry criteria:  Students in Years 11 and 12 based in the UK. They will enter as a team (3 to 5 students max). We especially welcome entries from UK state schools and those from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds. 

    Each competing student team will be required to: 

    • Register interest by submitting the online registration form noted above by 8 January 2023
    • Submit a project outline by 27 February 2023
    • Submit a short paper addressing the problem and evaluating the potential solution/s by 8 May 2023.

    This DIC will then be conducted as an online competition involving a submission of a short paper based on the student participants’ analysis of a problem and proposed solution. If your proposed solution also involves a working prototype and/or a working scaled model, you may also describe it in your paper.

    The Final Presentations and Awards Ceremony will take place online on Thursday 23 June 2023: 

    The three finalist student teams will be invited to take part in a Zoom webinar to present their solutions to an audience (our department staff and students, graduates in industry and industry partners, along with a 'surprise' guest of honour and keynote speaker). The judging panel at CEB will then appoint a winner.

    An invitation and the programme for the final will be circulated in due course.


    The winners will receive a cash prize and will be treated to a stay in a Cambridge College, the Cambridge 'experience' and a day in our department in the West Cambridge Campus.  There may also be an opportunity to get some work experience with one of our industry partners (TBC). 

    See last academic year's winners and find out about last year's competition and watch a recording of last year's final

    For queries regarding student participation and entry submission please contact  Elena Gonzalez  Marketing and Outreach Assistant. 

    We are always looking for supporters and industrial sponsors so get in touch if you can help!

    The Big Bang Competition

    Students may also be eligible to enter The Big Bang Competition at the same time. The Big Bang Competition is free, and open to young people in the UK aged 11 to 19 in state funded education, who are home educated or who enter as part of a community group. Entries close on 30 March at 5pm.


    Sunday, 8 January, 2023 - 09:00 to 17:00
    Contact name: 
    Elena Gonzalez
    Contact email: 
    Event location: