Social Good

Science for Social Good: Science in Service of Humanity

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Social responsibility has become a growing movement, with 64 percent of CEOs planning to increase investment in corporate social responsibility. Today, Fortune 500 companies alone give more than $15 billion annually towards finding solutions for global challenges and offer a breadth of volunteer programs, which allow their employees to contribute to communities where they live or work.

At IBM, corporate responsibility dates back to the earliest days of the company. In the 1910s, IBM President Thomas J. Watson Sr. challenged employees to share their time and talents with their communities. Decades later, IBM expanded on this tradition by developing the On Demand Community, through which more than 280,000 IBMers have engaged in improving their communities.

Science for Social Good

IBM's Science for Social Good initiative aims to tackle the world's toughest problems with science and technology. Explore the 2017 projects:

Posted by IBM on Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Many of our corporate responsibility programs were born from the realization that checkbook philanthropy or short-term interventions don’t always make an enduring impact; that oftentimes, addressing big issues requires engaging more deeply and broadly. Some of our recent initiatives include: P-Tech, where we are reinventing education by bringing together the best elements of high school, college and the professional world; Teacher Advisor, powered by IBM Watson, to support teachers in improving teaching and student achievement; The Jefferson Project, which deploys IoT and data analytics to protect fresh waters; and IBM Health Corps which helps partner organizations expand health access and improve outcomes with analytics and cognitive technologies.

Our latest endeavor pushes this idea even further. Our newly announced Science for Social Good program is an important scientific commitment in that direction. It is also a new model of giving back — with science. In this program we will work closely with organizations (NGOs, public sector agencies, social enterprises) that are on the forefront of big societal challenges to learn and take inspiration from the problems they are tackling.

We will then mobilize the passions and skills of our scientists to seek solutions. And we will award short- and long-term fellowships, and invite emerging scientists, graduate and undergraduate students to join us in our labs, and work together with our teams on one of our social good projects.

Detecting new diseases before they emerge, tackling climate change, improving agriculture yield to grow more crops while protecting the environment, addressing poverty and breaking the chain of human trafficking — to move the needle on these and other of the world’s most pressing problems requires continual scientific and technological advances.

With 3,000 scientists in 12 labs around the world — and with a 70-year history of innovation that includes FORTRAN, fractals, the floppy disk and hard drive, relational databases, RISC architecture, the bar code, laser eye surgery, Deep Blue and Watson — I believe that no company, no organization is better equipped to take on these challenges than IBM Research.

I have to admit that when in 2016 we ran the pilot of the program, there were a lot of unknowns. “Will NGOs be interested in collaborating with us?” “Will students apply?” “Will we get enough scientist to volunteer?” We announced the program and the fellowships on Twitter and waited. In less than a month more than 300 students applied! And we interviewed 150 NGOs!

Over the course of the first six projects, 36 researchers volunteered their time, working side by side with the fellows. We went on a hunt for the Zika virus using machine learning, applied causal modeling to study innovation, and modeled the space of global development. We developed an API for automatic identification of humanitarian disasters, studied the impact of outreach actions on how children in rural Africa receive treatment for diarrhea, and developed cognitive capabilities for an open data science platform.

This year we will execute a broad portfolio of projects from detecting new diseases, to addressing hunger, to helping people out of poverty, to reducing violence and making cities safer. By doing all of this, we hope to advance the awareness, the technology, the community and the science. Step by step, project by project, invention by invention. Because we know that big problems are not solved overnight. They require sustained commitment of many stakeholders, a lot of hard work, and a stream of successes (and failures).

Behind every moonshot there is a sequence of uncharted journeys, and we hope to launch many of them. To learn more about the program including 2017 fellowship positions or interest in how to partner with us, visit

Candice Hernandez

I would love to volunteer in the new technical projects that IBM has been studying, especially in space innovations. I have a lot to offer in the science study field plz respond you will not be disappointed.

Yasin Khan

Good to see this initiative in action.


Excellent stuff!Wonderful to hear about this project.


Very Cool Saska


Loved this part of this company. And loved the flowers too! =)

Venkata S Kolisetty

Detecting the diseases before they emerge…aha moment of science

Mona Gupta

Interesting program. Would love to be involved. How can a regular IBMer that is not part of IBM Research volunteer their time?


Wonderful to hear about this project. How can I be involved an an SME and also help NGO partners to be a part of this network. Keen on the Summer fellowships for students. Is there a Geo wise roll out or based on projects or should i work with the India/South Asia IRL?

Zander Alexander

When I saw the an article about your program on the Futurism website, it was the first article in my Google newsfeed that I’ve read in a while that gave me any feeling of hope for the future of living things on earth.

Just imagine! A large, international corporation exists that directs a line of research toward solving life and death social problems worldwide without any obvious consideration for immediate profits!

And that’s contrary to the ugly trend being followed in this Trumpian world by many major multinational corporations, blindly headed in just the opposite direction, without any regard for the social and environmental consequences of their obsessive race to the bottom line.

I recently read another article about IBM’s project using Watson in cooperation with large medical organizations to revolutionize many medical procedures and administrative processes, and it gave me that same hopeful feeling that perhaps smart, creative people do exist with the knowledge and the wherewithal to reverse the general slide toward extinction of life on earth.

May the force be with you.

Andrej Crepinsek

great job and thanks for sharing it! I believe such messages will inspire many IBM-ers.

David Angove

Good to see this initiative in action.

Michael P. Haydock

Awesome! Would love to be a part of it!

Shalini Sanyal

Finally good to see this and yes Its a long path and a tough one sure !!
IBM is already must ahead on though leadership and it about taking to realize and put in action.
Look forward to partner.


Great Initiative, and would have loved to participate. 13 June is my LWD @IBM. Good Luck to the team involved.


Great Initiative! Love to be a part of this program.

Kaith Rhee Lopez

Great to see IBM address Sustainable Development Goals, I hope I can be part of this exciting journey.

Shilpi Poddar

Awesome initiative towards making this a better world. Wish to see a planet where there is only smile, happiness, and togetherness . A time when the newspaper only reports of progress the world is making and not the crime and poverty rate that is increasing everyday.
I too would like to be a part of this initiative. If anyone there to guide please let us know how we can contribute.

sergio boger

Great work. Science for Social good projects bring the essential technology element to scale community projects.

Meredith Singer

How exciting! I would love to be part of this work, even though I am not a scientist in the technical sense. However, I am passionate about helping people and using my time and resources to benefit others. This is a great IBM initiative.

George Krieg

Great stuff! Wonderful to hear about the life changing work we are doing in research.

Comments are closed.

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