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I am doing PhD research. My PhD fees are covered by the government.

I have seen other PhD students got sponsored by big companies such as IBM, so they are working with IBM and at the same time do the research. It is important to me to get such a sponsor, as I am working and studying part-time now.

Is this something I can apply for (to each big company) proposing my research? Or there are certain programs I apply for? Or it is my supervisor who applies?

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    It may depend on the contract / agreement you have - talk to your advisor. – Solar Mike May 6 at 6:05
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    only trough advisor or PhD mentor this is possible – SSimon May 6 at 7:27
  • IBM Research in particular has a rather competitive fellowship program that requires nomination by your PhD advisor, or some other faculty member. They also limit the number of nominations from a given department. – Anyon May 6 at 15:16
  • This is country specific. Also domain-specific (even within computer science). For example, machine learning or cybersecurity research would get sponsored easily, but AGI research is less likely to get sponsored. – Basile Starynkevitch May 7 at 1:21
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In order to do research with a big company's research arm you need to make contact with them. A blind request is probably not going to go anywhere. You need to use some intermediary who is trusted by them. Much of their research is proprietary and so they are required to be secretive about it.

Your advisor or another professor at your university who already has contact with the company might be a good way to get a proposal heard. Another way, oddly enough, is another graduate student who is employed by that company in an important position.

Such companies also have occasional public events, even at your own university, where their researchers look for talent and ideas. Sometimes their researchers will be presenters at conferences (as happens frequently in CS) and you can meet people there.

However, these days, many big companies that did basic research in the past have focused quite closely on product oriented applied research. There is less of an opportunity now for them to spend time and effort on your ideas unless they already align with their own.

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