Cool Ideas scheme doubles prize fund to £100,000 and more winners

A quarterly awards scheme to help inventors turn their cool ideas into reality is expanding – with an increased prize fund and the chance for even more innovators to win.


The SmartCan which scooped the US prize

Telford-based digital manufacturer Protolabs says its Cool Idea Award scheme will now offer £100,000 of prototyping and manufacturing services every year to applicants across Europe looking to get great ideas off the ground.

And for the first time the company – the world’s fastest digital manufacturer of custom prototypes and low-volume production parts – will also offer support to ideas which do not win the top prize but are highly commended by their judges.

Protolabs design expert Ray Faulkner said the expanded scheme would give even more companies the chance to get their pioneering ideas developed and into production.

“We launched the Cool Idea Award in Europe earlier this year after it proved a phenomenal success in the United States.

“When we launched the European scheme we made £50,000 of help available across the year to four winners, announced on a quarterly basis. But we are delighted to say that the support we will provide now stands at £100,000 in real terms and that even more brilliant ideas will benefit.

“We are going to offer free help and support to those ideas which don’t quite win but are highly commended to ensure that as many of these projects as possible make it into production.”

Protolabs is a technology-enabled company that uses advanced 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding technologies to produce parts within days.

Ray added: “Too many great ideas never see the light of day because product development resources are scarce, it’s difficult to build prototypes or the cost of an initial production run is just too high.

“Our awards aim to do something about this and help as many entrepreneurs, inventors and companies as possible turn those inspiring concepts into real-life products.

“The sort of thing we mean by a ‘cool idea’ is simply a product that would make life a little better, easier, safer, healthier, less frustrating or more fun – for individuals or communities.”

The latest winner of the US scheme – smart home company Rezzi – made headlines around the world when its revolutionary SmartCan scooped the prize in September.

The invention is the world’s first motorised dustbin which can take itself to the side of the street for collection and then return home once emptied.

Rezzi plans to make SmartCan available by late 2020, and with the help of Protolabs and the Cool Idea award the company has been able to rapidly accelerate its current phase of product prototyping and testing, bumping up its production schedule by nearly six months.

SmartCan’s entire mechanical structure was manufactured by Protolabs, including the main body fabricated from sheet metal, the drive train assembly and the 3D printed plastic cover.

For more information about entry criteria for the European awards and additional rules and regulations, visit protolabs.co.uk/about-us/cool-idea-award

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