Canberra-based 10-year-old William may be off on an Innovation Adventure soon, with a trip to NASA as a highlight. With his invention of a blood test strip disposal kit, he hopes to be shortlisted as one of the final 12 entries in the Origin littleBIGidea competition.
“I came up with the idea of this kit because I was always getting into trouble for leaving my test strips everywhere. I went to a kids technology workshop called a Hackathon, and was put in the 3D printing group. Other kids did virtual reality, 3D art, or web and game development. My mentor Ben helped me make the design of my kit on a 3D printing program and then we printed it.”
This first design and competition entry is only the stepping stone to greater things though.
“We’ve registered a company in Australia to start producing diabetes products like this. I’m going to do some prototypes, make some modifications to the design, and then it needs to be tested by a lot of people. Hopefully I can get a government grant for a patent.”
When JDRF asked William if he’s the youngest CEO in Australia, he laughed. His mum Liz said, “We don’t know for sure, but he probably is!”
Will went on to say, “3D printing worked really well for this first product, but we’re going to look at proper manufacturing with plastic moulding in the future so we can make more of them. There’s hundreds of millions of people with type 1 diabetes in the world, and I want all of them to have my test strip kit!”
His mum has helped Will get through all these business and legal hurdles. “I have a background in business development and have worked with manufacturers before. It certainly has helped us get Will’s business up and running!”
Having the support of his friends, family and schools definitely helps as well.
Will doesn’t remember much about his diagnosis, but his mum says, “It happened three years ago, when we were on a family holiday in Tasmania. When we got back to Canberra, I took him straight to the hospital. He’d lost so much weight.”
“T1D threw our lives upside down, but we were lucky from the start. I had a colleague with a son with T1D who went to the same school as Will so we had someone to talk to. We manage it the best we can, though it can sometimes be psychologically challenging. We try not to let it rule our lives.”
Having a supportive local community makes a big difference.
“Will’s school has been really supportive. This year he raised $256 with Jelly Babies at school, plus a million dollars’ worth of awareness because he went to every single classroom and told them all about fingerpricking, injections and the pump. “
“He meets other Canberra kids with type 1 diabetes as well. Just recently, he was playing a basketball game and we realised that there was another boy playing who was also wearing an insulin pump!”
The top 3 finalists in the Origin competition will get to go on an innovation trip to America, and the other finalists will receive $1000 each. Either way, Will would be happy. “If I win the trip, that would be amazing, I’m interested in space exploration. If I win $1000, I want to give 15% to JDRF, and spend the rest of it investing in my business.”
With such a keen brain for business and new inventions, we’re sure that Will is going to go far!