I am currently a second year mathematics undergraduate and will be undertaking a research placement (in topology/decision problems in group theory) at a maths faculty in England this coming summer.

My supervisor has asked that I apply for research grants. Currently I have the potential to be funded (at least partially) by the maths faculty, and also the London Mathematical Society (LMS). To be safe though I would like to apply to as many places as possible.

I have heard of large company funding research in mathematics so perhaps I should just email large companies and ask them if they are willing to help fund my project? Has anyone heard of success of this before?

Are there any other kinds of funding sources I have not mentioned above?

  • 1
    Normally when a large company wants to fund research, they'll fund research groups instead of students. So, with regards to private funding, your best bet would've been finding a supervisor who has it already.
    – Nat
    Dec 14, 2017 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


Charitable funding from large companies seems unlikely

In the US, only about 4% of scholarship dollars come from private sources.

Here is the breakdown of sources of college grants: federal government (44 percent), colleges (36 percent), state governments (9 percent), employers (7 percent), and private scholarships (4 percent).

-"7 Things You Need to Know About Private Scholarships", U.S. News (2011-02-01)

So, you're in the UK and asking about summer research funding, but it seems likely that the same trend would apply: that not much of the funding would come from corporations.

The big problem's that there doesn't seem to be a reason why they'd do it. Even if a company wants to give its money away to research, it seems like they'd target medical research or something else with near-term applications.

You may want to think out an argument for your research

In general, the problem's that capital's a finite resource; people could just as easily put their economic power toward medical research or their own interests. So, why should anyone want to give you money?

This isn't rhetorical or to make you feel bad! Rather, it's an important life question that we all have to ask. And if you can find a good answer to it - one that isn't biased by your own personal wants, but rather is objectively compelling - then that'll give you a basis for pursuing sponsors.

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    "Even if a company wants to give its money away to research, it seems like they'd target medical research or something else with near-term applications." Actually, I'd expect them to overwhelmingly target things they feel would be commercially useful to them. Jun 4, 2018 at 11:11

You could see if these guys have any funding available The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications I doubt emailing large companies is going to work.

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