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Nokia announces 2017 Bell Labs Prize winners; top winner honored for pioneering first universal software defined reconfigurable mmWave radio

Press Release

  • Winning innovations include advanced radio technology, new short wave infrared organic materials and new printable battery technologies - all have the potential to disrupt the current technological landscape and human existence
  • Winners collectively earned $200,000 in cash prizes and an opportunity to continue their collaboration with the world-renowned Nokia Bell Labs researchers

13 December 2017

Espoo, Finland - Nokia announces the top three winners of its fourth annual Bell Labs Prize, which recognizes disruptive technology innovations with the potential to solve the critical challenges humanity faces within the next 10 years.

This year's competition attracted more than 330 proposals from 35 countries, which were narrowed down to around 20 semifinal applications shortlisted for collaboration with Bell Labs researchers over a two-month period. These refined semifinal proposals were then reviewed by the Bell Labs leadership team and the nine finalists selected, with each finalist having the chance to extend their collaboration with leading researchers at Bell Labs. 

The nine finalist applications covered topics ranging from new approaches to machine learning, new materials synthesis, new human sensory technologies, new distributed computing paradigms, new battery technologies and new programmable radio and antenna technologies. The final judging event took place with a group of seven luminaries in the STEM field.*

All the finalists presented outstanding work, but the judges selected three winners based on the demonstrated disruptive potential of their work. The three winners are:


  • First prize ($100,000) was awarded to Kaushik Sengupta, Assistant Professor in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, for his invention of a radical new transceiver chip technology that could power a truly universal software-defined reconfigurable radio, improving today's wireless communications and opening the door for new applications currently unapproachable because of their size or cost requirements.
  • Second prize ($50,000) was awarded to Tse Nga (Tina) Ng, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering with the University of California at San Diego, and Jason Azoulay, Assistant Professor of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi, for their invention of new photosensitive polymer materials that could be used for health and medical monitoring through-the-skin with wearable, thin, flexible devices.
  • Second Prize ($50,000) was also awarded to Colm O'Dwyer, Physical Chemistry Lecturer at University College in Cork, Ireland, for his invention of a new class of 3D-printed batteries that could be incorporated into virtually any form factor, enabling new kinds of wearable devices with medical, health, communications and other future applications.

In addition to their cash prizes, the winners will also be given the opportunity to deepen their collaboration with the world-renowned researchers at Nokia Bell Labs to further develop their ideas towards game-changing innovations.

Marcus Weldon, president of Nokia Bell Labs & Nokia CTO, said: "Each year the Bell Labs Prize produces a set of outstanding innovations that have the potential to solve critical problems confronting humanity. This year was no exception and produced one of the finest groups of finalists we have seen, with each of the nine having the potential to profoundly disrupt and enhance the technology or solution domain they were addressing. It was a difficult decision, but the judges were unanimous in their support for the three winners, based on the novelty of the work and the disruptive potential. We look forward to continuing to work with all of these rising stars to help make their vision a reality."

*Judges included:

  • Emmanuel Abbe - 2014 Bell Labs Prize winner - Associate Professor in the Program for Applied and Computational Mathematics, Department of Electrical Engineering, and Department of Mathematics at Princeton University
  • Al Aho - Lawrence Gussman Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University
  • Stephen Friend - Chairman of Sage Bionetworks and former member of the Apple Health team
  • Brandon Lucia - 2015 Bell Labs Prize winner - Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Risto Siilasmaa - Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nokia Corporation
  • Marcus Weldon - President of Nokia Bell Labs and Corporate Chief Technology Officer
  • Bob Wilson - 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics ("Big Bang Theory") - Senior Scientist at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts

About Nokia Bell Labs
Nokia Bell Labs is the world-renowned industrial research arm of Nokia. Over its 90-year history, Bell Labs has invented many of the foundational technologies that underpin information and communications networks and all digital devices and systems. This research has resulted in 8 Nobel Prizes, two Turing Awards, three Japan Prizes, a plethora of National Medals of Science and Engineering, as well as an Oscar, two Grammys and an Emmy award for technical innovation. Nokia Bell Labs continues to conduct disruptive research focused on solving the challenges of the new digital era, defined by the contextual connection and interaction of everything and everyone, as described in the book, The Future X Network: A Bell Labs Perspective.

About Nokia
We create the technology to connect the world. Powered by the research and innovation of Nokia Bell Labs, we serve communications service providers, governments, large enterprises and consumers, with the industry's most complete, end-to-end portfolio of products, services and licensing.

From the enabling infrastructure for 5G and the Internet of Things, to emerging applications in digital health, we are shaping the future of technology to transform the human experience.

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