Small Business Q&A: James King Student Engineer of the Year

James King has just won the Engineers Ireland Level 8 Student Engineer of the Year award for 2014. James talks to Kehlan about his invention, MediPod, and what it could mean for access to medical supplies in remote areas.

Small Business Q&A: James King Student Engineer of the Year

He also explains his difficulties with the patents process and why he hopes to manufacture his invention here in Ireland, as we have the skilled workforce to do so.

* Well done on your award, so what is MediPod?

MediPod is a carbon fibre pod which is used to transport blood, or even organs, to remote parts of the world. It is also a temperature-controlled pod which means that whatever is being transported will arrive in virtually the same condition as it went into the pod. The applications for this are far-reaching, from doctors in remote areas to armed forces treating the sick, or wounded.

* So where did the idea come from?

It actually came from a conversation I had with my Dad. He is in the ambulance service and was complaining about the congestion in the city and being able to get organs or blood to people through traffic. Then I read an article while researching about supplies in Iraq. It came from Colonel Brian Eastridge in the US Army who served in Iraq and also works at the National Trauma Institute in the United States. In it he described how the army had had thousands of unnecessary deaths due to lack of supplies in areas of fighting.

* Have you applied for patent on this, how was that process?

It’s tough. We are currently in talks about getting the patent process going on this. It’s difficult because of the initial fees and then you need a lawyer in case there is an objection to patent. And if somebody does object it means a process which could mean that you cannot file a patent and the patent office will reject your patent claim. So it can be touch and go as to the future of your company when you file patents. But it’s necessary to protect the company in the future too.

* So is the plan to sell on to a ministry of defence or to manufacture in Ireland?

The plan is to make and build them here in Ireland. The infrastructure is here and we have the skilled workforce to be able to do that and that’s what draws all the big companies over to Ireland. We’ll look at moving on the defence department’s side too.

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