Protolabs Cool Idea! Award Logo and Moulded Parts

A Manufacturing Grant for Great Ideas

Designer stood against a table

Brilliant ideas for new products emerge every day, but far too many promising napkin sketches end up in waste baskets because product development resources are scarce. The Protolabs Cool Idea! Award was created to help turn those inspiring concepts into real-life products.

Each year, the program awards an aggregate of up to £150,000 in Protolabs manufacturing services to innovative thinkers who can use their grant towards building prototype or even an initial production run. 




Based on traditional Zen gardens, the Sisyphus kinetic art table draws complex designs in sand beneath a glass top. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $2 million, the company had more than 1,000 orders to fulfill. With the Cool Idea! Award, Sisyphus was able to scale production and ship tables to its campaign supporters.

Recent Cool Idea! Award Winners

How to Apply

The application process is easy:

  1. Fill out an initial application—it’s three short questions. Apply here.
  2. Judges will select finalists based on the initial application.
  3. Finalists will submit more product details, including a 3D CAD model of their part.
  4. Judges will review the finalists and select a winner.

There are four application periods throughout the year:

  • January 1, 2018 – February 28, 2018
  • April 1, 2018 – May 31, 2018
  • July 1, 2018 – August 31, 2018
  • October 1, 2018 – November 30, 2018

If selected for a Cool Idea! Award, you must use the services within 90 days and should be at a stage in your project that allows you to begin executing immediately.

Rules and Regulations

The Cool Idea! Award is intended to help early-stage companies and entrepreneurs. Read through our guidelines for additional requirements, and if you’re ready to take your idea to the next level, we’d love to see what you’re working on.

General guidelines for the submission process:

  • A 3D CAD model(s) must accompany the application form.
  • If you are granted an award, Protolabs will ask you to let us actively promote your project in print, press releases, case studies, etc.
  • Cool Idea! Award recipients have 90 days to use their award.
  • If your project is related to a government contract or grant, it is ineligible for an award.
  • Protolabs employees and families are ineligible for an award.

If you have additional questions about the award, please check out our FAQs page and read through our terms and conditions.

Stay Informed

Thank you
cool idea contestant on phone at desk