Nokia, MIT Team On New Research Lab

The collaboration will "advance the state of the art in mobile computing and communications technologies," the partners said.
Nokia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Thursday they will establish a research facility near MIT's Cambridge campus.

To be called the Nokia Research Center Cambridge, the facility will bring together 20 researchers each from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Nokia Research Center, which is headquartered at Nokia's headquarters in Finland. Some Nokia employees at an existing Nokia R&D facility in suburban Burlington, Mass. are expected to move to the MIT center.

The announcement stated that the research collaboration will "advance the state of the art in mobile computing and communications technologies."

Laurie Armstrong, a Nokia spokesperson, said projects for the center are currently being developed. "The areas of focus are likely (to include) new user interfaces and the development of new mobile equipment using lower power," she said. She added that the researchers are likely also to examine ways to make wireless solutions more intuitive and to find new ways of managing information.

Five initial projects are being developed for the center, which is scheduled to begin operations January 1.

The center will have an international flavor. Nokia's research effort is headed by Dr. Bob Iannucci, an American who is based in Espoo, Finland, while MIT Professor Arvind, a native of India, will be the Cambridge facility's program manager. (Professor Arvind uses only his last name.) Director of the Cambridge operation will be Dr. James Hicks, who has been working at the Nokia Research Center. "For Nokia, this is a fresh approach to our research collaboration with universities," said Iannucci in a statement. "Bringing together the collective expertise of MIT and Nokia in mobile computing and communications provides a vehicle for rapidly generating new concepts and bringing innovations to the marketplace on a large scale."

The move by Nokia to advance its R&D efforts in the U.S. will bring the firm -- which currently sells more cell phones than any other company in the world -- into closer contact with U.S. mobile phone service providers. A champion of the European GSM standard, Nokia will be in a position to collaborate further with U.S. GSM service providers such as Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile.

Nokia currently operates R&D facilities in San Diego, Dallas, Mountain View, and Burlington. The company's U.S. headquarters is in Dallas.

The establishment of the Cambridge center was hailed by MIT's president Susan Hochfield, who stated: "Information and communication technologies are becoming ever more critical in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. By carrying out long-term research in these fields, including novel uses of hand-held devices, MIT and Nokia will make new communication opportunities and services available for people around the globe."

In announcing the establishment of the center, MIT and Nokia said the researchers will also examine the use of Semantic Web technologies, which are an extension of the Web that was developed in part by CSAIL and Nokia.

The company and the university have a long past with Nokia being a founding partner of MIT's Oxygen Alliance, the university's effort to create a new breed of computers.

Editor's Choice
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
Roger Burkhardt, Capital Markets Chief Technology Officer, Broadridge Financial Solutions
Shane Snider, Senior Writer, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author