Protolabs Cool Idea Award Logo and Moulded Parts

A Manufacturing Grant for Cool Ideas

Designer stood against a table

Great product ideas emerge every day, but far too many promising napkin sketches end up in the bin because product development resources are scarce. For this reason Protolabs’ European Cool Idea Award was established to help turn those inspiring concepts into real-life products.

Every year the initiative grants up to £100,000 in Protolabs manufacturing services, split over four quarterly award programs, so innovative thinkers can use their grant towards building prototypes and even an initial production run.

The entry process for the Cool Idea Award is your opportunity to shout to the industry about how great your design idea is. It is the chance to bring your product to life, to take your product to market without incurring prototyping costs, then tell your story with free publicity for both your product and your company.


Based on traditional Zen gardens, the Sisyphus kinetic art table uses a metal ball to draw complex and mesmerising designs in sand beneath a glass top. In order to move the ball through the sand the Sisyphus team originally planned to CNC machine several mechanical components. But when demand grew they partnered with Protolabs to injection mould the parts, bringing the quality and scale they needed within the right timescale.

Recent Cool Idea Award Winners

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Up to £100,000 in manufacturing services grants for innovative ideas

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.

The application periods this year are:

  • October 1 – December 31, 2019
  • January 1 – February 29, 2020
  • April 1 – May 31, 2020
  • July 1 – August 31, 2020
  • October 1 – November 30, 2020

If you are 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 soon after.

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 be uploaded if you successfully get through to round 2.
  • 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