Proto Labs Inc. and Cleveland Clinic, a healthcare system focused on emerging and digital technologies, are joining up and launching a program to expand ecommerce and digital technology in healthcare.

Call it digital manufacturing and B2B ecommerce meet digital healthcare.

Proto Labs Inc., which does virtually all its on-demand manufacturing sales through ecommerce, and Cleveland Clinic, a healthcare system focused on emerging and digital technologies, are joining up and launching a program to expand ecommerce and digital technology in healthcare.

Proto Labs and Cleveland Clinic are jointly developing an awards program to help move novel healthcare ideas forward, says Proto Labs CEO Vicki Holt. The new initiative will be part of Proto Labs’ Cool Idea Award program and will work with Cleveland Clinic Innovations, which says it has executed over 500 licenses and created 75 spin-off companies that have raised over $1 billion in equity investment and commercialization grants since 2000.

“The medical industry makes up one of Proto’s largest segments of customers—we are well-versed in the intricacies of bringing medical products to market,” Holt says.

Proto Labs will help the inventor communities across our program more rapidly develop and test their solutions.

Winners will be awarded in-kind manufacturing services from Proto Labs to support development, such as building prototypes or supporting initial production runs—and eventually commercial poducts.
Proto Labs’ Cool Idea Award began in 2011 and has granted over $1 million in manufacturing services to companies and organizations with promising new product ideas, the company says.

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Winner s also will be chosen twice a year with judges made up of both Cleveland Clinic Innovations and Proto Labs. Applications are selected four times annually, but Proto Labs and Cleveland have yet to say when the first healthcare recipients will be named.

“Healthcare is changing rapidly, and we must innovate at a similar pace to improve outcomes for patients everywhere,” says Cleveland Clinic Innovations executive director Pete O’Neill. “Proto Labs will help the inventor communities across our program more rapidly develop and test their solutions, and ultimately improve patient care.”

Proto Labs, with manufacturing facilities and online customers in the United States, Europe and Japan, provides several types of custom manufacturing that customers can order online: 3D printing, which uses digital blueprints to construct items by adding or removing materials layer by layer; additive manufacturing, a form of 3D printing used to add materials to build products; injection molding, a process by which material is forced into a mold to form a product; and CNC, or computer numerical control, a process by which machining or milling tools operate via computer programming.

Proto Labs is based in Minneapolis.

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