Protolabs teams up with Cleveland Clinic to bring ‘cool ideas’ to medtech market

Protolabs Cool Idea logoDigital manufacturing company Protolabs (Maple Plain, MN) has teamed up with the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare Innovation Alliance to help bring novel healthcare ideas to fruition. Part of Protolabs' Cool Idea Award program, the winning submissions will receive in-kind manufacturing services from Protolabs to support development and eventual commercialization of the products.

Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI) is the commercialization arm of the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. Members of the CCI Alliance, a network of healthcare organizations, corporations and universities focused on healthcare innovation, are invited to submit ideas to the Cool Idea Award: Healthcare Grant. Twice a year, a panel of judges comprising representatives from Protolabs and CCI, will determine the winners, who will receive support from Protolabs, including prototype development and initial production runs, to help bring their product to market.

One of the goals of the program is to provide a path for researchers to develop leading edge medical products that may fill unmet needs or improve existing healthcare technologies. “There is definitely a gap between the people doing the research or developing the ideas, and having access to adequate resources to bring their ideas to market in a timely manner at an affordable cost,” Annie Cashman, Global Segmentation Manager for Medical at Protolabs, told PlasticsToday. “Protolabs offers four core services that equip product developers with the resources to develop their products faster than ever, which ultimately will benefit the patients they serve. We view this as a unique opportunity to partner and collaborate with one of the leading brands in the world to accelerate healthcare,”  said Cashman.

Protolabs initiated the Cool Idea program in 2011, and has granted more than $1 million in manufacturing services since that time. The most recent recipient is Tucson-based startup SafKan, which developed a pair of headphones that can remove earwax from a patient’s ear in a matter of seconds. Other "cool ideas" have included an internet of things–enabled water management system and a Zen garden-inspired table that produces sand designs beneath a glass table.

The extension of the program to healthcare products is a natural progression, said Vicki Holt, Protolabs President and CEO. “The Cleveland Clinic Healthcare Innovations Alliance shares our commitment to fostering and accelerating innovation. The medical industry makes up one of Protolabs’ largest segments of customers, so we are well-versed in the intricacies of bringing medical products to market,” said Holt.

The Cool Idea Award: Healthcare Grant is open to individuals or companies affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare Innovations Alliance. Other medtech inventors are welcome to apply for the Cool Idea Award’s flagship program, which accepts applications four times throughout the year.

Cleveland Clinic Innovations is the commercialization arm of the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. Since it was founded in 2000, it has executed over 500 licenses and created 75 spin-off companies that have raised over $1 billion in equity investment and commercialization grants.

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