Kitchener-based Voltera, who successfully raised $502,310 on a $70,000 Kickstarter campaign goal for developing their Voltera V-One circuit board printer, has taken the 2015 James Dyson award, winning the $45,000 US, approximately $54,000 Cdn., top prize.
The Dyson award, named for the inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, was started in 2002 to recognize recent graduates who are developing product design, industrial design or engineering solutions that solve a problem.
“The Voltera V-One team is made up of four impressive young graduates,” said James Dyson. “Their solution makes prototyping electronics easier and more accessible – particularly to students and small businesses. But it also has the potential to inspire many more budding engineers — something I am very passionate about indeed.”
The Voltera pitch couldn’t really be simpler: “If you need a custom circuit board, just press print.”
Their product came out of the frustration that developers all feel when they’ve designed a circuit board and then have to wait a couple weeks for the finished product to come back.
The printer allows nearly instant printing of a circuit board from a design, working much like a 3D printer.
Although two teams from Waterloo made the finals last year, this is the first time a Canadian team has won top prize.
Founded in 2013 by Alroy Almeida, Jesús Zozaya, Katarina Ilic and James Pickard, Voltera now has 17 employees and is based in the Velocity Foundry.
Ilic, who studied nanotechnology at the University of Waterloo, recently spent six months in Shenzen, China at a hardware accelerator called HAX, where she and Zozoya oversaw the first production run of 50 Voltera V-One printers.
Voltera plans for the first batch of 500 V-Ones to be manufactured early next year, retailing for approximately $1,700.
The University of Waterloo gets an additional $7,500 US, approximately $9,000 Cdn., from the James Dyson award for Voltera’s victory.
Second place was awarded to a Taiwanese team called Green Fairy, who developed biodegradable cell beads that eats the water-borne nutrients that develop algae blooms.