Princeton University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science has launched a corporate affiliates program to bolster innovation and research in the next-generation of intelligent wireless and networking technologies.

Part of Princeton’s NextG Initiative, the membership-based program aims to increase the flow of knowledge and innovation between industry and academia and to engage policymakers to ensure the greatest impact of these advances. It has attracted close to a dozen corporate members, including several of the world’s leading networking and semiconductor companies. Those companies will work with Princeton students and faculty members to ensure that the knowledge created by academic research finds its way out of the labs and into practice, maximizing its benefit to society.

tech leader and engineering dean Andrea Goldsmith, talks casually to two conference attendees from industry.
Andrea Goldsmith said federal policy could strengthen collaborations between academia and industry.

“The best academic research to help realize the promise of future wireless networks is informed by close interactions between faculty and industry technology leaders,” said Andrea Goldsmith, dean of Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. “Our NextG program aims to foster those deep collaborations around wireless technology, as well as policy, that are required to drive meaningful innovation and global leadership in an era of rapid change.”

The program’s inaugural members include American Tower, Crown Castle, Ericsson, Intel, InterDigital, MediaTek, Nokia Bell Labs, Qualcomm Technologies, Samsung Research America and Vodafone.

Representatives from member companies met with Princeton research leaders — including the initiative’s three co-directors, Goldsmith, Kaushik Sengupta and Yasaman Ghasempour — for the program’s internal launch event in November.

Sengupta, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, said the program has ambitious goals to drive meaningful advances across the entire technological stack, including devices, circuits, architectures and algorithms. “All of this will be driven by a wireless network backbone that needs to be intelligent and secure,” he said.

Peter Vetter, president of Nokia Bell Labs Core Research, said NextG networks are increasingly complex and foundational to technological advances. “Multi-disciplinary research will be essential to be successful,” he said. “Nokia Bell Labs therefore embraces the collaboration with Princeton’s NextG program together with other partners in the ecosystem.”

Experimental technology setup with gold-plated devices, wires and a microscope.
Experimental devices and systems developed at Princeton, like this setup in Kaushik Sengupta’s lab, have opened new capabilities in high-frequency wireless sensing and communication for next-generation applications.

The NextG Initiative was formed in 2023 to accelerate the adoption of new technologies and foster academic-industry collaborations. The initiative draws on Princeton’s expertise across a range of research areas, including cloud and edge networks, intelligent sensing, terahertz and sub-terahertz communication, security and privacy, network resilience, and a host of applications from health care to transportation to defense.

Ghasempour, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, said that while this initiative has grown organically from the wealth of interdisciplinary research on campus, the corporate partners’ insights, expertise and real-world experience are instrumental in shaping the program’s future activities.“In academia, we tend to look at fundamental research questions that require long-term investment,” Ghasempour said. “Industry develops technologies that can be realized and have applications in the real world today, or at least very soon. But there are a lot of synergies in the topics and challenges we tackle.”

Charlie Zhang, senior vice president at Samsung Research America shared his support for fundamental research in next-generation telecommunications areas. “The wireless industry has benefited significantly from fundamental research in the past few decades,” he said. “We encourage Princeton’s researchers to continue innovation and develop disruptive technologies that could bring major breakthroughs in 6G.”

Representatives from Ericsson said in a statement that their current leadership in 5G network infrastructure markets is partly due to early investments in strategic research and development initiatives and forging partnerships with leading research institutions. “We see excellent opportunities to work together with the researchers at Princeton to push groundbreaking research and innovation into the 6G network platform,” said Magnus Frodigh, vice president and director of research at Ericsson. Andrew Lloyd, head of government and policy advocacy, added: “As a leading provider of global connectivity, Ericsson is delighted to work on the development of telecoms and digital technologies policies with Princeton.”

“We are excited to deepen our research partnership with Princeton University and contribute to their NextG program bringing together critical members of industry, academia, and government to advance networks of the future, and better understand the benefits of AI to wireless networks,” said Rajesh Pankaj, InterDigital’s executive vice president and chief technology officer. “Princeton University’s prestige and reputation for leading-edge wireless research and policy influence make them a critical complement to InterDigital’s forward looking research that make our networks and modes of communication more efficient, secure, and impactful.”

By bringing together faculty members across the full breadth of related areas, and building enduring relationships with the companies that will deploy future systems, the program also enhances education at Princeton by giving students opportunities to engage with industry leaders, according to Sengupta. “At the end of the day, this enhanced collaboration translates to technology that will truly impact society and the world,” he said.

To learn more about becoming a member of Princeton’s NextG Corporate Affiliates Program, contact Jessie Skinnider from the Office of Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations at jskinnider@princeton.edu.

Faculty

  • Portrait of Andrea Goldsmith

    Andrea Goldsmith

  • Kaushik Sengupta

  • Yasaman Ghasempour

Research

  • Circuit with abstract nodes

    Wireless