News release

Date: 7th June 2021

DnaNudge named finalist for Royal Academy of Engineering’s Prestigious MacRobert Award

DnaNudge’s ground-breaking genetic testing technology recognised by UK’s most prestigious UK engineering award

London, United Kingdom, June 7th 2021 – DnaNudge today announces that it has been named as a finalist for the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award for 2021. DnaNudge’s shortlisting honours the development of its pioneering consumer genetics technology – including the NudgeBox genetic analyser and wearable DnaBand – that uses an individual’s DNA to detect dispositions to nutrition-related conditions and helps people to manage their lifestyles.

DnaNudge joins only two other finalists in the running to receive the prestigious MacRobert Award gold medal and a £50,000 cash prize – previously won by the pioneers behind the Harrier Jump Jet, the Raspberry Pi micro-computer and the CT scanner. The winning engineering team will be announced in July.

The 2021 finalists for the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award represent world-leading UK engineering innovations that could help us all live healthier, more sustainable lives. The MacRobert Award judges were impressed by the simplicity and usability of the DnaNudge technology – the world’s first service to use consumers’ own DNA plus lifestyle to nudge people towards healthier choices while shopping. The illustrious judging panel highlighted the potential of DnaNudge’s innovation to make a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of the nation.

DnaNudge’s Lab-in-Cartridge genetic testing innovation allows individuals to provide a simple cheek swab, on-the-spot at DnaNudge’s flagship store in Covent Garden, at one of its John Lewis pop-up locations, or by post from home. In just over an hour, DnaNudge’s NudgeBox portable analyser then maps the user’s genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol.  The results of the report can then be used to help people manage their lifestyles. Using the wrist-worn DnaBand or DnaNudge mobile app, people are able to scan food products sold in UK supermarkets to find out whether the nutritional contents are a good match for their biology. For example, if your DNA suggests a predisposition to conditions influenced by salt intake, the band will identify if the scanned item is high in salt and the mobile app will suggest a range of alternative products better suited to your individual genetic profile.

DnaNudge has already been recognised by the Royal Academy of Engineering for adapting its technology to deliver a rapid, lab-free COVID-19 test, awarding the President's Special Award for Pandemic Service to DnaNudge CEO and co-founder Professor Chris Toumazou in August 2020. DnaNudge’s CE-marked RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 test is now in use in NHS hospitals, care homes and supporting the returns of the arts sector, and can accurately detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus from saliva samples in just over an hour – without the need for a laboratory. DnaNudge’s COVID-19 Bubble Test is also available to asymptomatic UK consumers as a private test for individuals and groups of up to 10, delivered in-store by appointment and as a by-post service.

MacRobert Award judge Naomi Climer CBE FREng, said:

“Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes plus the current COVID-19 pandemic are three huge health issues affecting people in the United Kingdom right now, and DnaNudge can help us to combat them all. What makes this innovation stand out is that it has taken something extremely complex - using our biological make-up to help individuals support their own everyday health - and engineered a product to make it simple enough for anybody to do. Widespread uptake of this technology would give us all much greater power to make the right decisions about our health. And this is only the start. This technology has the potential to be applied to a huge range of other healthcare challenges.”

Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel, said: "The UK is a global leader in engineering and technology, as evidenced by its proactive role in tackling the pandemic, from ventilators to vaccine production. After such a year it is no surprise to find medical engineering strongly represented across the finalists for this year’s MacRobert Award for engineering innovation. As we look to build back better for the future, the inspiring achievements of our finalists offer the potential for all of us to have more control over our health and lifestyle. 

He added: “These three companies represent the very best of engineering innovation, offering new ways to apply leading edge technologies in our daily lives. Whether using our own genetics to guide us on making healthier food choices through DnaNudge, reaping the benefits of products connected seamlessly thanks to PragmatIC’s flexible electronics or receiving more precise cancer treatment developed by Creo Medical, these developments offer huge potential advantages for the future.”

Professor Chris Toumazou, Co-Founder & CEO of DnaNudge said: “It is a huge honour to be a finalist for the most prestigious award for engineering innovation. The entire DnaNudge team has shown an incredible level of flexibility, imagination and commitment over the past year, especially as we sought to rapidly adapt our technology into a test for COVID-19. We’re extremely proud to have developed a technology that is having an impact on some of the biggest health challenges facing our society.”

Now in its 52nd year and the UK’s longest-running engineering prize, MacRobert award-winning innovations have changed the world, delivering enormous economic and societal benefits and contributing to the UK’s standing as a global leader in life sciences. MacRobert Award winners are chosen by an expert panel of Royal Academy Fellows, who have vast experience across engineering industry and academia.

The DnaNudge finalist team includes:

Regius Professor Christofer Toumazou FREng FRS, CEO
Dr Maria Karvela, CSO
Dr Caroline Golden, Clinical Research Manager
Josef Cicinski, UK Retail Store Manager
David West, COO


Notes to editors

MacRobert Award for engineering innovation

First presented in 1969, the MacRobert Award is widely regarded as the most coveted in the industry, honouring the winning organisation with a gold medal and the team members with a cash prize of £50,000. Founded by the MacRobert Trust, the award is presented and run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, with support from the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

The MacRobert Award 2021 Judging Panel

Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS (Chair of judges)

Former Cavendish Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge; Founder, Cambridge Display Technology

Naomi Climer CBE FREng

Non Executive Director; Former President Media Cloud Services, Sony; Vice President, Royal Academy of Engineering

Dr Andy Harter CBE DL FREng

Chairman, Cambridge Network; Founder and Group CEO, RealVNC

Professor Nick Jennings CB FREng

Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise), Imperial College London

Professor Dame Julia King, The Baroness Brown of Cambridge DBE FREng FRS

Chair, The Carbon Trust

Professor Gordon Masterton DL OBE FREng FRSE

Chair of Future Infrastructure, University of Edinburgh; Former Vice-President, Jacobs

Professor Sir John McCanny CBE FREng FRS

Regius Professor of Electronics and Computer Engineering, Queen's University Belfast Professor

Phil Nelson CBE FREng

Professor of Acoustics, University of Southampton

Dr Liane Smith FREng

Director, Larkton Ltd; former SVP Digital Solutions, Wood Group

Professor Sir Saeed Zahedi OBE RDI FREng

Technical Director, Blatchford; Visiting Professor: University of Surrey; University of Bournemouth

About DnaNudge (

DnaNudge is the developer of the world’s first service to use consumers’ own DNA plus lifestyle factors to nudge people towards healthier choices while shopping. The DnaNudge service analyses and maps users’ genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, enabling customers to be guided by their DNA towards healthier eating. The service has been developed by world-renowned biomedical engineer Regius Professor Chris Toumazou FRS and published geneticist Dr Maria Karvela.

This ground-breaking in-store DNA testing service created to address an epidemic – obesity and Type 2 diabetes – has now been successfully adapted for the fight against a pandemic, with the development of the rapid, lab-free CovidNudge RT-PCR test. CovidNudge can accurately detect COVID-19 and other viruses in just over an hour, without the need for a laboratory, and is now in UK NHS roll-out.

About the Royal Academy of Engineering (

Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.


For further information please contact:
PRESS CONTACT for DnaNudge: Nicky Denovan EvokedSet PR Email: nicky[at]evokedset[dot]com Phone: +44 (0) 118 328 2782

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