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About the Bell Labs Prize

The Bell Labs Prize is a competition for innovators around the globe that rewards 10x game-changing ideas and proposals in the general field of information and communications technologies.
Bell Labs is the research arm of Nokia and one of the world’s foremost technology research organizations. We are well known for inventing and perfecting many of the cornerstone technologies that have defined the majority of information technology and communications systems over the past century. Over the years, nine Nobel Prizes shared by 14 Bell Labs researchers have been awarded for work completed at Bell Labs that was focused on solving ‘10x’ type problems.  Find out more about Bell Labs.
We are welcoming applications from innovators from around the globe. You must be a citizen of one of these countries. You must be aged 21 or over at the time of registration on the website.
The Prize is both a prestigious innovation award and a means by which to collaborate with the world-renowned Bell Labs. By taking part in the competition, you will have the opportunity to share your idea and findings with the world. You will gain visibility to a high-profile audience of researchers, developers, innovators, media and partners as well as receive support from Alcatel Lucent, one of the most advanced telecommunications companies in the world.

Candidates who reach Stage 2 of the competition will also have the chance to work alongside a Bell Labs researcher to strengthen their proposal.
The three winners may have an opportunity to work with Bell Labs, giving them the opportunity to collaborate with researchers to further develop the idea and enhance its commercial viability.
  • First prize: $100K + matching $100K for the winner's university
  • Second prize: $50K
  • Third prize: $25K
All participants may have an opportunity for additional collaboration with Bell Labs beyond the competition.
The 3 winners may have an opportunity to work with Bell Labs, giving them the opportunity to collaborate with researchers to develop the idea and enhance its commercial viability.
  • First prize: $100K
  • Second prize: $50K
  • Third prize: $25K
If a team is declared the winner, the value of the award will be divided amongst the team members.

All prize amounts are gross amounts and subject to reduction due to tax and other applicable withholdings, which are the sole responsibility of the winners.
Employees and applicants for employment are not eligible to participate in the Contest, but interns are. For the purpose of this Contest, an “intern” means a student currently pursuing a degree at an accredited college or university, hired to work for Sponsor or its affiliates on a temporary basis or a defined student term.

In addition, directors, members, partners, agents, and consultants of Sponsor and its affiliates and their immediate family members as well as the supplier of goods or services in connection with the Contest are not eligible to participate in the Contest. “Immediate family” is defined as the spouses, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the employee and his or her current and former spouse, if applicable. This definition also includes individuals for whom an employee is the current legal guardian or individuals who are not legally related to but who reside with an employee. (“Step” relationships also are covered by the definition “immediate family”). 

How the Prize works

Please register here. Once your email address has been verified you can submit your application by filling in the form available from your dashboard.
There is no registration fee. The Bell Labs Prize is a free competition.
The Bell Labs Prize involves two key stages. In Stage 1, participants register and submit an initial idea. The ideas are evaluated and finalists selected for Stage 2 will develop their ideas and convert them into a robust proposal in conjunction with Bell Labs Research Partners. Ten finalists will then be invited to a Nokia corporate location to present their proposals in front of the Bell Labs Judging Panel, and 3 winners will be selected.
Stage One
  • March 1, 2019 - Website opens and applicants can register to participate in the competition and submit their ideas through the application form
  • April 26, 8:00 PM US-Eastern - Deadline for registration and formal submission of Stage 1 ideas
  • May 24 - Candidates selected to proceed to Stage 2 are informed  
Stage Two
  • June 19 - August 30 - Finalists develop in-depth proposal with the help of a Bell Labs Research Partner
  • August 30 - Deadline for submission of Stage 2 detailed idea
  • October 4 - Finalists who are invited to present in front of the Bell Labs Judging Panel in Murray Hill are informed of the selection
  • December 4 - Final presentations and winners announced.
Submissions will not be accepted after 8:00 PM US Eastern time on April 26, 2019.
All participants will be notified of Stage 1 results by May 10, 2019, and Stage 2 results by October 4, 2019. Stage 2 finalists will also receive feedback and comments from Bell Labs Reviewers.
Ideas will be evaluated by Bell Labs researchers based on the following 3 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 will 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?
By participating in the Prize, the applicant is granting Nokia Bell Labs the rights to market, promote and communicate the ideas that have been developed during the course of application. Intellectual property developed during Stage 2 proposals is described more fully in the Terms and Conditions (German version)
In Stage 2, participants will have access to Bell Labs Research Partners. They will provide support via the website to help candidates develop their proposals.


Proposal submission

Entries and supporting documents are all required to be in English.
For Stage 1, all candidates are requested to describe their idea in no more than 250 words and will have the option to attach a maximum of 3 explanatory pages. Please see all details here Download (pdf)

For Stage 2, candidates are requested to submit a more detailed proposal that provides additional information on: the approach, the impact and the technical challenges of the idea as well as on the implementation plan. Please see all details here Download (pdf)
All participants are requested to develop an innovative proposal related to the field of information and communications technologies. In the submission form we have outlined over a dozen categories, however these are not restrictive and applicants are free to indicate a different category in the application form.
  • Web Applications
  • Cloud Services
  • Information Theory
  • Coding Theory
  • Computational Sciences
  • Cryptography
  • Distributed Systems
  • Data Privacy
  • Mathematics of Networks
  • Modulation Schemes
  • Optical Systems or Components
  • Communications Systems
  • Collaboration Systems
  • Network Protocols
  • Network Architecture
  • RF design
  • Sustainability
  • Wireless systems
  • Fixed Network technologies
  • Software-Defined Networks
  • Virtualization Technologies
  • Search algorithms
  • Self-Optimizing Networks
  • Real-time Analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
Yes. You will however have to register with a different email address for each new application. Please register here
If a prize is awarded to the team, the team members  (regardless of the point in time they joined the team) will share equally any Prize awarded to the team unless all members of the team agree differently, in writing, signed by each team member and satisfactory to Sponsor, and prior to awarding of any Prize. Teams of up to four (4) people are allowed to participate, provided each member of the team meets the eligibility criteria and accepts the Terms and Conditions.
Teams of up to four (4) people are allowed to participate, provided each member of the team meets the eligibility criteria and accepts the Terms and Conditions.  

Each member of the team should register individually.  Then a designated team lead will log into the Bell Labs Prize Site and select option, "Invite Team Members". The team leader will be able to filter the list by name/email to search for the names/email addresses of the people you would like to add to your team. For each person, select the "Add to team" button. Repeat this process until you have all members of your team included.

Sign up now for the Bell Labs Prize

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