DTU startup wins major design award for splash-proof glass

Two former DTU students behind the startup Drinksaver are honoured with a Red Dot Award for their work in developing a glass that can be used by everyone, regardless of disability.

Laila Sofie Midjord (left) and Casper Gramhald-Nørland's innovative Drinksaver glass has a curved lid that prevents the contents of the glass from spilling out. Photo: Drinksaver


  • The Red Dot Awards is a prestigious international design competition that, since 1955, has recognized outstanding design in three categories: Product Design, Communication Design, and Concept Design. 
  • In the 2024 edition of the competition, Drinksaver has won an award for their product design.
  • The Red Dot Award is recognized worldwide and is considered one of the most prestigious awards in design.

The idea for the Drinksaver glass came about when Laila Sofie Midjord and Casper Gramhald-Nørland were presented with a case study in the Design and Innovation programme at DTU: Make the festival experience more accessible for wheelchair users.

It was here that the basic concept of a glass that doesn't spill was born. Since then, the glass has gone from disposable to dishwasher safe, and Laila Sofie Midjord and Casper Gramhald-Nørland have gone from students to entrepreneurs and founders of the company Drinksaver.

And the meeting between aesthetics and classic, problem-solving engineering has been a recurring theme in their work from the very first idea to the present day. The Drinksaver glass has been developed in accordance with the principles of universal design, which the two founders were introduced to at DTU. Universal design is an approach that seeks to avoid dividing people into two groups: those with disabilities and those without. Instead, it strives to create products and solutions that fulfil everyone's needs.

And working with universal design has made Drinksaver's product better - not just for people with mobility disabilities, but for everyone, says Laila Sofie Midjord:

"We worked a lot on asking critical questions about the product. For example, can you use it with one hand? Can you use it if you're in a wheelchair? And by asking those questions, you force yourself to make the product better and simpler for everyone. For us, for example, this has meant that our product is not only good if you have Parkinson's or cerebral palsy, but also if you're just in a place where the environment is moving - on a boat or while pushing a baby carriage, for example."

Busy 3D printer

The pride is not limited to the award winners themselves, but is shared by Marianne Thellersen, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at DTU.

When a company like Drinksaver grows out of DTU, it's a sign that the university is succeeding in its vision of educating graduates who have the desire and ability to become entrepreneurs and influence the world in a positive direction, she says:

"We have created an entire ecosystem that wants to support students who want to create a startup. We help them get the idea - often in the form of a case in class - we help them turn the idea into a product, and then we help them again when the product needs to be turned into a business. When Drinksaver has succeeded in that process, so have we."

Drinksaver has been in contact with a broad cross-section of DTU's innovation ecosystem. Countless hours have been spent in Skylab, where the founders received professional guidance on how to set up a company registration number, find a good accountant, and many other aspects of starting a business that they had never encountered before. Almost as beneficial was being in an environment with other entrepreneurs with whom they could spar with, says Laila Sofie Midjord:

"The other startups were completely different, but there are still a lot of things about which bank to choose, about insurance, about patents and many other things that are a great strength to exchange experiences about."

And then there are the physical facilities, which among other things made it possible to 3D print more than 200 different prototypes to find the right shape for the splash-free glass. A process that took a long time and was only possible because Skylab provided the machinery.

"We were probably responsible for the printer being very busy during that period," Casper Gramhald-Nørland recalls.

Technology Leaving No One Behind

Drinksaver has also been part of the Technology Leaving No One Behind programme, which is a collaboration between DTU and the Bevica Foundation that aims to promote inclusive and universal design.

The Bevica Foundation has given the startup funding on several occasions, and Drinksaver has maintained its connection to the programme by being a case study on how universal design can be a starting point for innovation and entrepreneurship.

"We share the same vision that assistive technology should also be aesthetic and well-designed products. It gives dignity and pride to those who use them," says Laila Sofie Midjord about the partnership with the foundation.

Today, all students at DTU are introduced to universal design during their studies. A decision taken by the university to promote both inclusion and innovation, Marianne Thellersen emphasises and continues:

"We want to get to a place where we don't, for example, make products for people who can't walk or can't hear, but instead make products and solutions that we can all use. Drinksaver is a really good example of this, because their glasses are not just for people with mobility disabilities, but are also smart if you just need to use them in the car on the way to work. By challenging our students to design a solution that everyone can use, you create innovation and ultimately better products."

The Red Dot Award will be officially presented at a grand ceremony on 24 June in Essen, Germany.


Marianne Thellersen

Marianne Thellersen Senior Vice President - Innovation and Entrepreneurship Mobile: 40 51 44 10