SAN JOSE, Calif. Hewlett Packard is looking for a few good university researchers with hot ideas that need funding. The computer giant officially releases a call for proposals today (May 7) as a new process in the restructuring of the company's storied R&D division.
"We had a much more ad hoc process of working with universities in the past that was more philanthropic," said Rich Friedrich, director of a newly created office of open innovation at HP Labs.
"Now we want to focus more on collaborations that are strategic and build relationships," he said. "It's important to build these relationships and not just throw money over the wall," he added.
The group is calling for submissions online by June 18 for projects that fall into one of about 50 specific topics under five broad areas that range from quantum computing to digital media and green data centers.
HP typically will fund the work of a professor and graduate student as part of a renewable one-year grant. The company expects to announce grant winners in the fall.
"Over the next couple years my goal is to help develop four or five university collaborations with each of our 23 labs," said Friedrich. "Because this is a global program, the overall budget will depend on who are the professors and what are their needs," he said.
A committee made of HP Labs managers, researchers and executives from Hewlett-Packard's business units will review the proposals, looking for those that are most innovative, relevant to the company's businesses and most likely to have significant impact. The company just completed a similar internal process reviewing proposed projects from the HP Labs groups.
"We had some very strong proposals and had some good dialog and feedback on them," said Friedrich who sat in on all the internal meetings. "I th9ink this is really helping us realize Prith [Banerjee's] vision of a being a more focused organization," he said.
Banerjee joined HP as head of the R&D group on August 1 from his position as dean of the college of engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"The research landscape is shifting towards a model of increased collaboration between academia and the private sector," said Beth Burnside, vice provost of research, University of California, Berkeley in a prepared statement. "HP Labs Innovation Research Program is an important step towards mobilizing these sectors to work together in pursuit of important scientific breakthroughs."
Awards under the HP Labs Innovation Research Program will consist of cash support for one year in the $50,000 to $75,000 range, including any overhead. A key element of each award will be on-campus support for one graduate-student researcher.