EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like Federal Programs

In Fiscal Year 1992, the EPSCoR Interagency Coordinating Committee (EICC), was established among the federal agencies with EPSCoR or EPSCoR-like programs.

The major objectives of the EICC focus on improving coordination among and between the federal agencies in implementing EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like programs consistent with the policies of those agencies. Agencies with EPSCoR-like programs include:

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Act of 1950 recognized the value of a broad science and engineering ecosystem across all jurisdictions (states and other U.S. entities). Over time, however, the distribution of research funds became concentrated in a few geographical areas. In response to this imbalance, the National Science Board created a task force in 1977 to examine the geographical distribution of funds. In FY79, the National Science Board approved a resolution that created the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to ensure NSF was meeting the spirit of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950. 

The first sets of NSF EPSCoR awards were made in 1979, and the name was updated in 2017 to the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Historically, the main NSF research infrastructure improvement (RII) award is the RII Track-1 cooperative agreement. The Track-1 program is a federal-state partnership, which requires a state financial commitment or match to compete for the federal dollars. The Track-1 is a jurisdictional award meant to build research capacity and competitiveness across the entire state.

NSF EPSCoR has evolved since its inception. Today, the expectation and requirement for funding of a Track-1 cooperative agreement is that a state jurisdiction provides a proposal and a plan whereby the research (intellectual merit) is fully integrated with the education outreach, broadening participation, workforce development, partnerships and collaborations, and communication dissemination to the public components/broader impacts. The motivation for increased integration between research activities and the programmatic elements is to develop a fully trained and diversified workforce to position the state’s national competitiveness and to broaden and sustain economic growth at the state level beyond the funding provided by the NSF.  

Department of Defense

The objectives of DEPSCoR, outlined on its website, are to: 1) enhance the capabilities of institutions of higher education (IHE) in eligible states and territories (states/territories) to develop, plan, and execute science and engineering (S&E) research that is relevant to the mission of the DoD and competitive under the peer-review systems used for awarding Federal research assistance; 2) increase the number of university researchers in eligible states/territories capable of performing S&E research responsive to the needs of the DoD; and 3) increase the probability of long-term growth in the competitively awarded financial assistance that IHE in eligible states/territories receive from the Federal Government for S&E research.

Department of Energy

The primary goals of DOE EPSCoR are three fold: 1) improve the capability of designated states and territories to conduct sustainable and nationally competitive energy-related research; 2) jumpstart infrastructure development in designated states and territories through increased human and technical resources, train scientists and engineers in energy-related areas; and 3) build beneficial relationships of designated states and territories with the 10 world-class laboratories managed by the Office of Science, leveraging DOE national user facilities and intellectual collaboration.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The goal of NASA EPSCoR, outlined on its website, is to provide seed funding that will enable jurisdictions to develop an academic research enterprise directed toward long-term, self-sustaining, nationally-competitive capabilities in aerospace and aerospace-related research.

National Institute of Health

The NIH IDeA program, as outlined on its website, builds research capabilities in states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical, and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements. The program also enhances the ability of investigators to compete successfully for additional research funding and serves the research needs of medically underserved communities.

  • IDeA-Clinical and Translational Research (CTR)
    • Designed to encourage applications from IDeA states to develop infrastructure and capacity in order to conduct clinical and translational research on diseases that affect the medically underserved populations and/or the disease prevalent in IDeA states. Provides for both mentoring and career development initiatives in clinical and translational research.
    • The Great Plains IDeA-CTR is a collaborative effort between nine regional institutions, including both NDSU and UND. The IDeA-CTR strives to provide training, education and mentorship; tools and resources; and funding to regional researchers. For more information, see https://gpctr.unmc.edu/

U.S. Department of Agriculture

From the USDA website regarding the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) about the FASE and EPSCoR: The Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants are designed to help institutions develop competitive projects and to attract new scientists and educators into careers in high-priority areas of national need in agriculture, food, and environmental sciences. FASE Grants consist of New Investigator Grants, Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowship Grants, and Strengthening Grants. Strengthening Grants are further divided into Sabbatical Grants, Equipment Grants, Seed Grants, Strengthening Standard Grants, Strengthening CAP (Coordinated Agricultural Project) Grants, and Strengthening Conference Grants. Fifteen percent of AFRI funding is set aside for Strengthening Grants and Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowship Grants.