Following the success of its Cool Idea! Award program in the United States last year, Proto Labs has announced the expansion of the program to include the European Union in 2012. 

The Award gives product designers the opportunity to bring innovative product ideas to life. It was created with the belief that there are many great product ideas that don’t get off the ground due to lack of resources and funds. Unlike other awards that recognise products or innovative design after the product has already launched, the Cool Idea! Award program helps designers take their product idea or part from a 3D CAD model to its first-run production stage with Proto Labs’ proprietary Firstcut CNC machining and/or Protomold injection-moulding services. In order to be eligible for consideration, Cool Idea! Award applicants must demonstrate the benefits of their product to the end-user and explain what makes it a ‘cool idea’.

The company has also increased the award amount from $100,000 to $250,000 worth of prototyping and short-run production services. 

“The response to Cool Idea! has been incredible, so we knew we wanted to expand the program’s reach,” said Proto Labs founder and CTO Larry Lukis.  “We’re committed to supporting designers and the development of new ideas, and we can’t wait to find out what kinds of ideas we’ll see from a new crop of innovators!”