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University Awards

Supporting research, curriculum
innovation, and educational assistance

IBM Global University Programs

IBM OCR awards program

Launched in 2006, the IBM OCR award recipients program provides a new model for partnerships between universities and IBM to study significantly challenging research topics impacting the 21st century.

Since the creation of the IBM PhD Fellowship Program in 1951, we have supported thousands of PhD students -- with more than 700 students supported over the past 10 years alone.

The origin of IBM's OCR awards program was a University-Industry Innovation Summit in December 2005, attended by leaders from IT companies, universities and government agencies. The outcome of the event was a set of Open Collaboration Principles, which is the foundation for IBM's program.

Purpose and goals

The OCR awards program supports strategically important, highly collaborative research projects between IBM and leading universities across a wide range of areas within Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics and other disciplines where open collaboration would accelerate innovation and benefit the world at large and IBM.

The program promotes the development of open source software, related industry standards and greater interoperability. The OCR awards program enables multiyear deep collaboration between IBM and university participants and allows faculty to take on new students and obligations. Outcomes of collaborations are open — meaning that results are freely available, and publicly shared — which provides maximum opportunity for others to build on the results.

Goals of the OCR

The goals of the OCR are to:

Study highly complex topics that require significant research collaboration

Enable IBM and university participants to forge deep relationships through multi-year collaborations

Provide collaboration results freely to the public through open source and open standards communities.


The awards are intended for faculty at leading universities worldwide, who will have access to IBM research personnel and/or receive cash donations (average of $100,000 USD per year) for 2 years.

Projects must be nominated by an IBM employee with common interests who will serve as a collaborator with the university faculty. IBM personnel must submit a project summary that includes a description of the project's goals and scope; a discussion of the expected outcomes and merits of the proposed work; and information about why open collaboration is needed.

If you are interested in pursuing a nomination for an OCR Award, we recommend that you speak with your IBM contacts in IBM Research.

If you have questions, refer to our FAQ (67KB) or contact IBM technical employees you already know through your professional organizations and activities.