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Graduate’s HIV self-testing device receives top prize

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 16 DECEMBER 2019

BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design graduate Hans Ramzan has had an extremely successful 2019. Hans’ award-winning work ‘CATCH’ has made headlines across the world, offering a low-cost, self-testing HIV detection device.

‘CATCH’ is a low cost, easy to use, self-testing device which detects HIV. This encourages people in developing countries (who are discouraged from travelling for miles to see a doctor) to check themselves for HIV at home. 

“After hearing of many people pass away due a life-threatening illness, it is heart-breaking. If they had caught their illnesses earlier, perhaps their chances of survival would have been greater. That's when something clicked - too many people are dying due to late diagnosis” Hans explained.

‘CATCH’ is extremely intuitive and can be used by anyone. It is designed to do all the thinking for the user and is operated in three easy steps;

  • Sliding the disinfectant sleeve over the finger.
  • Push down on the pipette/needle top
  • Press the button to see the result

After being recognised by the James Dyson Awards earlier this year, ‘CATCH’ went on to win the top prize in the Product Design category at the Beasley Design of the Year Awards. Speaking afterwards, Hans saidIt has not all sunk in yet, I don't think it ever will! Since the life of a designer is extremely fast-paced, I'm constantly trying to top my previous "work". As a result, I haven't had a chance to fully soak it all up yet! I love what I do and become thoroughly engrossed in any project I take on.”

“I remember visiting the Design Museum whilst studying at BCU, ambitiously thinking "one day, when I'm in my 40s, I'll be here". Fast forwards 4 years after graduation, 25 years old and, not only was my work exhibited in the Design Museum, it also won a Design of the Year Award! It was also recently announced that I am the youngest winner of all time to win a Design of the Year Award! I am very gracious for this and it is undoubtedly my greatest career highlight to date.”

That’s not all for ‘CATCH’ as Hans goes on to explain: “Not only do I freelance, I am also the Director of the company "CATCH by Hans" and have a team of shareholders, marketers, wholesalers and general sales people. It's petrifying having these people at my disposal whilst still being young! I'm being thrown in the deep end but it is a great learning experience. We hope to keep pushing the project until it is available on the market. The difficulty with medical products is that they often take many years before they materialise into a viable product.”

Since graduating, Hans has worked with a host of household names including Google, Facebook and McLaren. “Believe it or not, the big name projects aren't some of my favourite pieces” Hans explained. “It’s wonderful working with great companies like that who have unlimited budgets! However, I'm more of an inventor so the projects I am most passionate about are my personal ones. I have recently finished a project called 'Drop' which is an eco-water bottle. It is one of my favourite projects because it explores more than just a beautiful form - it experiments with different facets of design including materials and processes.”

“After graduating with a First Class degree, I thought it would be easy to secure my first design job. I heavily underestimated the competitiveness of the design industry. To make matters worse, I moved down to London, which is the most competitive city in the world for design (alongside New York and California). BCU made it imperative that the key to landing your first job is your portfolio. The vast and varied number of projects allowed me to tailor my portfolio for specific studios. Moreover, the lecturers were extremely helpful with guidance due to their extensive knowledge and experience.”

“I could talk for hours about the social aspect of living in Birmingham, but in terms of studying, it really is fantastic. The facilities are constantly being improved, the staff are forward thinking, and alumni are always eager to come back as visiting lecturers. Not only does BCU teach the tangible skills required to succeed in the industry, they also set you up psychologically to ensure you have a leg up on the competition.”

You can keep up-to-date with Hans through his website.  

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