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Revolutionary ideas in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics don't occur every day.

But when those "eureka" moments happen, we need to provide a forum to explore those ideas, judge them on their merits, and distinguish the extraordinary from the merely good.

Once a year, Nokia Bell Labs makes that forum a reality, where robust proposals that have the potential to revolutionize the future of human experience are presented and debated. If you think your idea could be one of them, the Nokia Bell Labs Prize is for you.

Solving challenges that connect humans, systems, things, infrastructure, or processes, the 2020 Nokia Bell Labs Prize is an opportunity for innovators around the world to collaborate with world-renowned Nokia Bell Labs researchers and transform their ideas into prototypes of the future.

What kind of ideas are we talking about? Big, bold, and bordering on audacious, they should have far-reaching, humanity-changing implications.

Previous winners offered solutions to enable a better Internet of Things (IoT), proposed a new way to simplify Big Data to extract actionable information and knowledge, and replicated the power of quantum computing on a chip.

One of 2019's winners developed an easy-to-use ultrasonic patch that can provide noninvasive, continuous, and unobtrusive monitoring of deep tissues.

Got a game-changing idea? Find out how you could win up to $100,000 and the opportunity to make it a reality.

Fields of Research:

  • Web Applications
  • Cloud Services
  • Computational Sciences
  • Cryptography
  • Distributed Systems
  • Mathematics of Networks
  • Modulation Schemes
  • Network Architecture
  • Real-time Analytics
  • Security
  • Software-Defined Networks
  • Sustainability
  • Wireless Systems
  • Collaboration Systems
  • Coding Theory
  • Data Privacy
  • Fixed Network Technologies
  • Information Theory
  • Network Protocols
  • Optical Systems or Components
  • Self-optimizing Networks
  • Virtualization Technologies
  • Search Algorithms
  • RF Design
  • Inference Systems
  • … and more

Am I eligible?

The Nokia Bell Labs Prize is open to anyone who meets the basic eligibility requirements. Many of our proposals come from Ph.D. and Masters students all over the world, but some also come from industry professionals.

For Stage One, all you have to do is register online, provide a valid email address and country of residence, and submit a proposal in the general areas of information and communications technologies (ICT).

Proposals can be submitted individually or in teams of up to four members. Multiple applications are allowed. All applicants — including each individual team member — must register and accept the Terms and Conditions.

Stage One — March 2 to May 15, 2020

MARCH 2: Submissions open! Register online (there would be a link to the Survey Monkey registration page here) and submit a proposal, explaining your idea in 250 words or less. You will have the option to attach three pages of text and/or images to illustrate your concept.

May 15: Last day for submissions. Mark your calendars — this is the last day to apply online and submit your ideas.
Ideas will be evaluated by Nokia Bell Labs researchers based on the following three criteria:

  • Innovation Potential How is your proposal novel? What is the disruptive thinking that could result in a rethinking of the current technology limits (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 do it depend versus further/future advancements and innovations?
  • Proof of concept Has proof of concept, simulation, or demonstration already been built, or could it be made in the course of the competition?

Stage Two — June to November 2020

Semi-finalists are announced in June. If your idea is among the top submissions, we will invite you to work with a Bell Labs Researcher as a Partner (BLRP) to help you strengthen your idea and turn it into a robust proposal.

From June to October, you'll develop your idea with your BLRP, and in October, finalists will be announced.

Stage Three — December 2020

Selected finalists will present their final proposals. The 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?

And then… the winners are announced!


  • 1st Prize of $100,000
  • 2nd Prize of $50,000
  • 3rd Prize of $25,000

Although only three can win cash prizes, those surviving the first-round gain visibility with a high-profile audience of researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, media, and partners.

A few may also see their innovation come to fruition, contributing to changing our lives for the better.

Apply to the Nokia Bell Labs Prize here before May 15, 2020.

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