Pushing scientific frontiers by partnering with the best

HP Labs announces the recipients of its second annual Innovation Research Awards

Palo Alto, 15 June, 2009 -- HP announced that a total of sixty projects from 46 universities in 12 countries will receive 2009 Innovation Research Program (IRP) awards from HP Labs.

The program, now in its second year, creates opportunities for faculty and students at leading colleges, universities and research institutes around the world to conduct breakthrough collaborative research with HP. Their joint aim: to tackle some of the tech industry’s most complex problems and to push the frontiers of fundamental science.

Award winners will work with HP Labs researchers to pursue investigations in areas such as intelligent infrastructure, immersive interaction, sustainability and cloud computing.

HP chose to increase the number of projects it will support this year by over thirty percent – up from 45 projects at 35 institutions in 2008. “Fostering this type of collaboration between industry and academia breeds a long-term partnership that is more important now than ever before,” said Prith Banerjee, HP senior vice president, and director of HP Labs, in announcing the awards.

The selected project leaders reflect the global reach of the program: including, faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, the Indian Institute of Technology; Bombay, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST); Carnegie Mellon University; and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“The Innovation Research Program is a core pillar of HP’s advanced research strategy,” added Banerjee. The program, he noted, “allows the company to tap the brightest minds all over the world to tackle the most challenging issues facing the technical community.”

A win/win opportunity

In only its first year of operation, the program has already proven to be a success. The 45 projects funded in 2008 have so far yielded 61 published papers and 13 invention disclosures. In addition, they’ve averaged an approximate 1:1 match of external funding to HP Labs’ investment, considerably increasing the reach and impact of the program.

Professor Van P. Carey, University of California, Berkeley

Professor Van P. Carey,
University of California,

31 research projects from 2008 are receiving a second year of funding in 2009. The project led by Professor Van P. Carey of the University of California, Berkeley, for example, teams him with HP’s Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab in an effort to develop compact and accurate models of the energy use in data centers -- models that IT managers can use to run their systems more efficiently.

“We’ve now reached a point where we’ve demonstrated the feasibility of the approach,” says Carey. In the project’s second year, he explains, “we’ll flesh out the tools that can use these models and test them against the performance of real data centers at HP.”

“What sustainability has lacked until now is the application of fundamentals,” explains Chandrakant Patel, HP Fellow and Director and of HP’s Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab, Professor Carey’s research partner at HP.

“We need experts like Professor Carey, who can apply fundamentals of thermodynamics and heat transfer to help us create tools that we can use to develop least energy, least materials products and solutions,” explains Patel.

“Working with an acknowledged pioneer in the field,” notes Patel, “isn’t just enabling a new generation of products based on solid metrics. It’s also resulting in papers that the team are publishing in top-tier journals, which helps inform the entire sustainability community.”

The IRP awards have been crucial to the project, he feels. “If we didn’t have the funding from IRP,” Patel suggests, “we wouldn’t be able to attract people like Professor Carey to work on this.”

“I really look at this as a win/win opportunity,” adds Carey. “Being able to work on cutting edge issues like this is a tremendous plus for me.”

It’s also a boon for his graduate students, Carey notes. “They actually get out in the field and see where the cutting edge issues are. And they gain a real feel for the importance of what they are doing.”

Plasma physics

Among the new projects being supported this year are investigations into better query processing in cloud computing environments (led by Dr. Volker Markl at the Technische Universitaet, Berlin, a joint project with Humboldt Universitaet zu Berlin), improved mining of information from very complex data sets (Dr. Jianyong Wang at Tsingha University, Beijing) and the development of novel silicon-germanium nanowire devices (Dr. Leonid Tsybeskov at the New Jersey Institute of Technology).

Professor Mark Kushner, University of Michigan

Professor Mark Kushner,
University of Michigan

At the University of Michigan, Professor Mark Kushner will be looking to better understand micro-plasmas. These microscopic sources of ionized gases are critical components in the development of next-generation electrophotography and commercial print engine technologies.

“Microplasmas,” says Kushner, “hold incredibly complex plasma physics. Our collaboration with HP Labs will give us an opportunity to investigate and understand these interesting plasma physics phenomena and quickly translate that understanding into society-benefiting technologies.”

Kushner too is excited by what the program can offer his students. Thanks to the HP award, he says, they will “have the opportunity to investigate a state-of-the-art plasma physics problem while collaborating with a world-leading technology development team at HP, who will hopefully benefit from their efforts.”

“This full spectrum experience (science > technology > commercialization),” he adds, “will provide my students with a truly real-world perspective and so accelerate their career development.”

Truly open innovation initiative

HP’s Innovation Research Program is managed by the HP Labs Open Innovation Office, which is charged with leveraging the strength of HP’s extensive academic and industrial research networks to discover and nurture new opportunities and advance thinking to improve both business and life. The IRP scheme is the industry’s first truly open, competitive and global innovation awards initiative.

IRP awards provide project funding of up to $100,000 for one year to each academic institution and are renewable for a total of three years based on research progress and HP business requirements. Awards are primarily intended to provide financial support for a graduate student to assist the Principal Investigator conducting a collaborative research project with HP Labs. The next request for proposals is planned for spring 2010.