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IBM Academic Awards: Innovation Awards

University Awards

Supporting research, curriculum innovation, and educational assistance

Smarter Planet Innovation Awards

Faculty Awards

Nominations for the IBM Faculty Awards must be initiated by someone within IBM.

About the program

About the program

The IBM Faculty Awards is a competitive worldwide program intended to:

Faculty Awards are cash awards granted annually. The current maximum award to any one recipient is 40,000 USD per year. IBM Faculty Awards are not contracts and no intellectual property rights are stipulated as part of a Faculty Award. We strongly encourage all work to be placed in the public domain.



To qualify for this internationally competitive award, the nominee must be a full-time professor at an accredited university which has a Ph.D. or MBA program in the nominee's field. Candidates must have an outstanding reputation for contributions in their field or, in the case of junior faculty, show unusual promise.



IBM does not accept unsolicited requests or proposals for faculty Awards. Candidates must be nominated by an IBM employee with common interests who will serve as liaison for the collaboration. Awardees may be nominated for a renewal, going through the same competition as the initial nomination. The nominee and technical contact will jointly fill out a short form, collecting contact information and a brief description of the project.

If you are interested in pursuing a nomination for a Faculty Award, we recommend that you speak with your IBM employee contacts in the development, research, or services organizations. If there is a mutual interest in research collaboration or curriculum development, your IBM contact can seek sponsorship and initiate a nomination for you.

Find answers to the most common questions about the Faculty Awards program.

  • - How do I contact someone within IBM to submit a Faculty Award request?

    It is recommended that you contact IBM employees from the IBM Research, Development, or Services organizations with whom you have an existing relationship. In most cases, such a relationship provides a good basis for developing a common interest for research collaboration or curriculum development. If your IBM contact is not familiar with the Faculty Awards program, he or she can access information via the IBM intranet.

  • - Are there specific guidelines for submitting a Faculty Award request?

    IBM seeks to support proposals that stimulate growth in disciplines and geographies that are strategic to IBM. We also encourage work that will be placed in the public domain and openly shared for the benefit of the entire technical or business community.

  • - When are Faculty Award nominations due?

    Nominations are managed with an on-going process from January through November of a calendar year.

  • - How many times can an individual receive a Faculty Award?

    IBM Faculty Awards are granted on an annual basis. The maximum award to any one recipient is 40,000 USD per year. While awards may be renewed annually, these nominations will engage in the same level of competition as first-time nominations.

Smarter Planet Innovation Awards

In 2010, IBM announced the first 2010 Smarter Planet Innovation Award program seeking partnerships with universities to create and teach innovative courseware or curriculum for the development of professionals who have the combination of industry and technical skills needed to lead industry transformations now and into the future. The areas in which IBM requested proposals in 2010 for the development of courseware included Smarter Healthcare, Smarter Transportation, and Smarter Cities.

In 2011, IBM continued the Smarter Planet Innovation Award program, again seeking to partner with universities who want to create and teach innovative curriculum that will empower and inspire the next generation of leaders with insights into how technology can help tackle some of the world's most pressing challenges. The areas in which IBM requested proposals in 2011 for the development of courseware included Smarter Commerce, Smarter Communications, and Smarter Energy.

Past awards

Over the past few years, IBM has given awards to faculty worldwide for their innovative research and curricular development.

  • - Scalable Data Analytics

    In June 2010, IBM announced the first IBM Scalable Data Analytics Innovation Awards for a Smarter Planet. The proposals were for the design and development of systems and solutions that incorporate the processing, analysis and dissemination of data, specifically for the applications that can help make the planet smarter. They addressed issues in areas such as transportation, energy, buildings, water, security, or urban life.

    For ideas about how to make the planet smarter using data analytics in innovative, large-scale solutions, visit IBM's Smarter Planet website.

  • - X10 Innovation Awards

    In June 2010, IBM announced the China/India 2010 X10 Innovation Awards to recognize a select group of academic research and curricular development activities in the area of computing at scale based on the X10 programming language. This round of awards was the first specifically designated for academic institutions based in China or India.

    The X10 Innovation Awards program represented an ideal opportunity for academic partners to learn, teach and help develop an eco-system built around a modern, open-source parallel language suitable for developing applications for parallel architectures. This program sponsored the development of libraries and application frameworks using X10 for cloud-based applications, as well as other areas of interest, to further develop the X10 ecosystem. Proposers were asked to develop libraries, applications and application frameworks using X10, hosted on the IBM Research Cloud. Proposers were also strongly encouraged to take advantage of Eclipse and X10DT, the Eclipse-based integrated development environment for X10.

  • - Jazz Innovation Awards

    The 2008 Jazz Innovation Awards recognized outstanding research projects based on the use of Jazz technology in academic research and education. Jazz is a flexible, extensible team collaboration platform for building integrated tools that support software development teams in virtually everything they do.

    The Jazz platform provides a rich basis for research in many areas, including but not limited to: collaboration and awareness, configuration management, planning and work item management, process guidance, build, project health, reporting and visualization, repository mining (of code, work items, builds and other artifacts from all phases of the software lifecycle) and tailoring of environments for educational (classroom) use.

  • - Exploratory Stream Analytics Innovation Awards

    The 2008 Exploratory Stream Analytics Innovation Awards encouraged the development of capabilities around the paradigm of exploratory and distributed stream processing and analysis, for academic curricula and research. Distributed stream processing represents a novel computing paradigm where data, sensed externally, is pushed asynchronously to various connected computing devices for processing. It enables novel applications typically characterized by the need to process high-volume, and possibly noisy, data streams in a timely and responsive fashion.

    This paradigm has applicability in several diverse domains that require exploration of real-time signals from sensors that might include radio antennas, distributed medical sensors, manufacturing process monitors, environmental, seismic and atmospheric sensors.

  • - Unstructured Information Analytics Innovation Awards

    The 2008 Unstructured Information Analytics Innovation Awards encouraged the development of community and capabilities for analytics on unstructured information, especially around the open source and open standards-based Apache UIMA. This framework provides middleware that accomplishes the more mundane (but critical) tasks involved in managing the creation, component assembly, configuration, deployment, scaling, error handling and monitoring of applications that use these analysis algorithms, in real-world application settings.

    Applications being built with UIMA run on configurations ranging from stand-alone laptop computers to large clusters of distributed servers. These applications analyze and extract knowledge from unstructured sources in diverse areas such as business intelligence, enterprise search, social networking, bioinformatics, customer relationship management, technical support, and security.

  • - Real-time Innovation Awards

    The 2008 Real-time Innovation Awards encouraged the use of open source and open standards-based tools for academic curricula and research. The development of real-time Linux and real-time Java made it possible, for the first time, to create complex, real-time systems using a widely-available standard operating system and a safe, high-level, language that includes garbage collection. IBM has produced leading technology in this area that is in use in the telecommunications, defense, and finance sectors.

    There still are many opportunities to create innovative real-time applications, tools, and middleware or to improve the underlying operating system. And, most important to the academic community, the potential or this technology to simplify education has not yet been realized.

  • - Eclipse Innovation Awards

    The IBM Eclipse Innovation Award program was an international award competition for faculty, designed to encourage the use of open source and open standards-based tools for academic curricula and research. Between 2003-2006, IBM provided over 270 awards for the purpose of furthering teaching, research, and community building around the Eclipse environment.

    Eclipse is an open universal platform for tool integration that has an extensible Integrated Development Environment (IDE). As part of the open source community, the Eclipse technology is royalty-free. Eclipse-based tools give developers freedom of choice in a multi-language, multi-platform, multi-vendor supported environment and run on many operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, and Mac OS. They offer significant value to researchers and educators, by providing an industrial-strength infrastructure for conducting research and developing curricula in many areas of computer science and computer engineering.