Head Start for Start-Ups-November 2011

Head Start for Start-Ups-November 2011

Proto Labs’ Cool Idea program gives new products a leg up.

“We look for stuff that’s cool and different—and that makes a difference,” says Bill Dietrick, vice president of marketing for Proto Labs, a Maple Plain manufacturer of CNC-machined and injected-molded custom parts for prototyping and short-run production. “We’re an innovative company founded on an innovative idea, and want to find others to help out.”

That’s the idea behind Proto Labs’ Cool Idea competition. Its first winner, which Proto Labs announced in August, is Ohio-based TruFlavorWare, which is developing a line of organic flatware for chemotherapy patients. It’s designed to eliminate a bitter metallic aftertaste that cancer patients often experience when using metal flatware. Proto Labs is providing TruFlavorWare with free prototyping and production short-run services.

Several Cool Idea “honorable mentions” will get a 25 percent discount on the services they contract for with Proto Labs. One is Minneapolis-based Inclined Biomedical Technologies, whose patent-pending d-TSSU case (above), designed for the life sciences industry, stores and stabilizes fresh-frozen tissue sections at room temperature for up to six months. According to Inclined Biomedical, the d-TSSU is intended to avoid the need to either preserve tissue samples with toxic compounds such as formaldehyde or store them in large cryogenic freezers that are expensive and require a constant electrical supply.

Proto Labs, which operates manufacturing facilities in several countries, is considering expanding the program internationally.

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