Bell Labs challenges global inventors to redefine the future as it launches the Bell Labs Prize

In 50th anniversary celebration of the seminal cosmic background radiation discovery, Alcatel-Lucent’s research arm launches the Bell Labs Prize to ignite innovation from a new generation of researchers.

May 21, 2014

Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU), today celebrated the 50th anniversary of the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, one of the strongest pieces of evidence supporting the “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the universe. This discovery in 1964 by Bell Labs scientists Arno Penzias and Robert A. Wilson earned the researchers a Nobel Prize in Physics and provided the basis for future astronomical discoveries.

On the occasion of this celebration, Bell Labs is launching a program to expand the scope of innovation at Bell Labs, in keeping with being the world’s pre-eminent research organization in the field of information and communications networking. At the heart of this program is the introduction of the Bell Labs Prize, a competition that will give any researcher, in participating countries around the globe, the chance to introduce their ideas to the world, and collaborate with world-renowned Bell Labs researchers. The Bell Labs Prize winners will take home cash awards worth as much as $100,000, and the chance to further develop their ideas at Bell Labs, where possible. At the heart of the Prize, are some of Bell Labs core convictions that highlight its new direction and mission including:

  • The desire to collaborate with the global innovation community (both inside and outside Bell Labs)
  • Researchers and innovators need to be focused on the great challenges that will enable the future 10 years from now, that means to solve problems that require a 10x improvement (or more) in multiple dimensions
  • These solutions are at the heart of Bell Labs focus on 10x game-changing research and cross-discipline ‘FutureX’ projects that attempt to solve the big problems (many with currently unknown answers to ‘x’)

“I am excited to see the ideas that come to light through this process, and to introduce many talented young scientists and engineers into the Bell Labs community,” said Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs and CTO of Alcatel-Lucent. “They will be joining some of the brightest scientists, engineers and mathematicians in the world, who continue to develop world-changing innovations.”

Today’s Big Bang Bash celebration will take place at Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, New Jersey, in the shadow of the “Horn Antenna”, which historically served NASA’s passive satellite program, Project ECHO, and was also instrumental in the Big Bang discovery. In attendance were Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, as well as notable scientists and Bell Labs President and Alcatel-Lucent CTO, Marcus Weldon.

Commenting on the celebration, Weldon said, “I think it is fitting that today, as we honor and celebrate this incredible, Nobel Prize-winning achievement by Arno and Bob, we are launching a program intended to inspire world-changing discoveries and innovations by young researchers that may one day walk in their footsteps. The Bell Labs Prize is intended to recognize innovators with the ability and vision to challenge the common assumptions, and find ways to revolutionize the way we live, work, communicate, collaborate and connect with each other and our digital world.