Campbell Brown and James Dimmock, of Oxford Science Park’s Sharp Laboratories, and Oxford University’s Brianna Stubbs, were awarded fellowships by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, and £80,000 for their work.
Mr Brown is developing a mobile phone screen-sized laboratory chip, to test patients’ blood for diseases quickly and cheaply.
Miss Stubbs is helping to create a more effective sports energy drink.
Mr Dimmock is developing more powerful solar cells.
They were three of just eight people from across the UK who received awards from hundreds who applied.
Mr Brown, 26, from Abingdon, said: “It was a real shock and surprise. It feels surreal. I am trying to develop a way to detect infectious diseases quickly. At the moment you go to a GP and give a blood sample which goes to a central laboratory and this takes time. The new method should mean you have a result in an hour or two so you know which antibiotics to use.” He thinks his new “laboratory on a chip” is between five and 10 years away from being ready.
Miss Stubbs, 22, from Headington, is developing a new ketone-based sports drink for company TdeltaS to market. She became involved as an Oxford University rower and 2013 World Champion for the lightweight women’s double skulls. The body produces the chemical ketone naturally from fat if a person is hungry. She said: “It means you can get levels of ketone in the blood just by drinking a drink. It is a different, more efficient energy. It is basically like putting better petrol in a car. It uses less oxygen in your body so you can train for longer." The drink has been approved for use in the United States but still needs the go-ahead from the EU.
Mr Dimmock, 27, from Headington, is developing more effective solar cells to be used as green energy. He said: “My aim is to make solar power a no-brainer – cheap and effective. "It is great to win. It means I can spend three more years doing what I love.”
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts congratulated the Oxford winners at the awards ceremony in London. He said the winners’ inventions show the innovation and talent that exists in the UK.
The £80,000 money for each winner comes from the Royal Commission for the 1851 Great Exhibition. Cash raised from the exhibition in the Crystal Palace, London, funds the awards.