Bell Labs offers $100,000 prize for game-changing information technology

Bell is looking for innovative web applications, cloud services, cryptography, network mathematics, security to software-defined networks, wireless systems and coding theory

One of the iconic research facilities in the world - Bell Labs -- today said it would offer $100,00 in prizes for researchers that have innovative ideas that can alter the information and communications technology field by a factor of 10.

If that sounds pretty wide open, it is, as the lab is looking for all manner of advanced ideas in areas from web applications, cloud services, cryptography, network mathematics and security to software-defined networks, sustainability, wireless systems and coding theory.

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The competition opens on May 20th 2014 and has two stages; in the first stage, up to 50 proposals will be picked and paired with Bell Labs (now the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent) researchers, to help expand upon the idea and make it real.  In the second stage, 10 finalists will be selected to compete for the 3 prizes at an event scheduled on December 2nd 2014, in front of a panel of industry experts.  Three prize winners will receive a grant of either $100,000 (grand prize), $50,000 (second place) or $25,000(third place).

From Bell Labs website, the competition will hinge on the following criteria:

  • 10x Innovation Potential - How is your proposal novel - what has not been done before, what is the "out of the box" thinking that could result in a 10x change in performance (e.g., speed/throughput, distance, latency, cost, energy efficiency or simplicity)?
  • Technical Merit - How technically sound is your proposal? On what current principles and capabilities does it depend versus further/future advancements and innovations?
  • Feasibility - Can a proof of concept, simulation or demonstration be built in the course of the competition? What is required to do so? In order to build a commercially viable (revenue and profit-generating) solution, what more would be required?

The 10 finalists who present to the Judging Panel will also be evaluated on a 4th criterion, which focuses on the commercial value proposition:

  • Business Impact - What is the magnitude of the new ICT-related business created by the proposal? How soon could it be brought to market and how differentiated/unique is the proposition?

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