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Win $1000 & turn your revolutionary idea into a real-life product

Deadline: CLOSED

The brief

We’re searching for innovators, entrepreneurs and engineering talents ready to push the boundaries of manufacturing to solve real-life problems.

The rules of the innovation grant are simple. Create a game-changing product, or a physical prototype of it, that you believe will make an impact in the world. Explain its relevance and how the product is made - whether that is through 3D printing, CNC machining, injection molding, or sheet metal fabrication. The choice is all yours.

The categories

This year, we’re accepting submissions for 3 categories:

Categories Examples
Product Design Consumer products, consumer electronics, gadgets, fashion
Robotics Mechatronics, automation, biomimetics, electromechanical systems, 3D printing systems
Transportation Automotive, electric vehicles, alternative urban transport, aircraft, spacecraft, drones

If you’re not sure which category your project belongs to, you can specify up to 2 categories in your application.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, June 28th, 2020, 23:59 CET

The award

A panel of industry experts will be selecting 1 winner from each of the categories based on certain selection criteria. The winners will receive:

  • $1000 in grant funding to support their project [1]
  • Media exposure to a global audience (powered by Protolabs Network)
  • Technical support to turn their idea into a real-life product

But that’s not all. The 5 finalists of each category will also receive an official finalist certificate and a copy of The 3D Printing Handbook.

The judging panel

Wondering who will be part of this year’s judging panel? This year, our judges are:

Tony Fadell - iPod inventor, iPhone co-inventor, Nest founder and Future Shape principal

Ole Geisen - Head of Engineering Services for Additive Manufacturing at Siemens

Luke Dormehl - Emerging Tech Writer at Digital Trends

Brian Garret - Co-founder & CPO at Protolabs Network

Learn more about our judges in this article.

“The Protolabs Network Student Innovation Grant helped me start my company, CUDAJET Inc. The fund was really helpful, but the promotion I received after the competition was truly priceless: my project got global coverage. As a result, everyone who I needed to start my business got in contact with me: from CEOs to potential investors. Finding mentors who can help you turn your idea into a real product is tough, so if you have them come to you, it certainly sets you apart.”

Archie O’Brien, winner of Student Innovation Grant 2018

Eligibility & selection criteria

For a project to be eligible, a physical prototype or product must be presented (renders will not be considered). Additionally, the whole or part of the design must be fabricated through either 3D printing, CNC machining, injection molding, and/or sheet metal fabrication.

We’ll be accepting submissions from individual contributors as well as teams. All contributors must either be current students (in secondary, undergraduate or postgraduate education) or recent graduates who have completed their studies after July 2019.

The submissions will be judged by a panel of professional engineers, designers and entrepreneurs in the industry. The winners will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Presentation (40%)
  • Level of innovation and potential impact of their project (30%)
  • Justification of the use of the selected manufacturing technologies (30%)

Past student innovation grant winners

Get inspired by our previous grant winners - from a keyboard for the disabled, an underwater jetpack, a modular panoramic 3D printed camera, to robots that can speak in sign language.


A 3D printed keyboard for the blind.

by Dougie Mann, Imperial College London & The Royal College of Art

Read the full story here →


A functional prototype of the world’s fastest underwater jetpack.

by Archie O’Brien, Loughborough University

Read the full story here →


A modular panoramic 3D printed camera.

by Paul Kohlhaussen, Richmond University

Read the full story here →


A humanoid robot that can translate speech into sign language.

by Guy Fierens, Stijn Huys & Jasper Slaets, University of Antwerp

Read the full story here →

[1] Excluding gaming tax. If the winner is in the Netherlands - the winner is responsible for Dutch gaming tax of 29%. If the winner is in other jurisdictions - the winner is responsible for local tax, if required. Please consult your local tax authorities for details.

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