The National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) in 1979 in response to Congressional concerns about the geographic concentration of federal support for academic research and development (R&D). EPSCoR is designed to expand and enhance the research capability of scientists in states that traditionally have lacked strong university-based research efforts, to compete more successfully for a portion of the federal academic R&D budget.
Congress began expanding EPSCoR beyond NSF in 1990. Today, EPSCoR is a family of competitive merit-based programs at seven federal research and development agencies: the National Science Foundation; the National Institutes of Health; the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and the Environmental Protection Agency.
These programs represent a federal-state partnership to enhance the science and engineering research, education, and technology capabilities of states that receive smaller amounts of federal R&D funds. Through EPSCoR, participating states are building a high-quality, university-based research effort that is serving as the backbone of their scientific and technological enterprise, capable of ensuring a strong and stable economic base into the next century.
EPSCoR operates in the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The list of eligible states varies somewhat for certain agencies.
The goal of NASA EPSCoR 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.
NASA EPSCoR objectives are to:
- Contribute to and promote the development of research infrastructure in NASA EPSCoR jurisdictions in areas of strategic importance to the NASA mission
- Improve the capabilities of the jurisdictions to gain support from sources outside the NASA EPSCoR program
- Develop partnerships between NASA research assets, academic institutions, and industry
- Contribute to the overall research infrastructure, science and technology capabilities, higher education, and/or economic development of the jurisdiction
- Work in close coordination with Space Grant to improve the environment for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in the jurisdiction
The two main components of NASA EPSCoR are:
- EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Development, or RID. This component enables jurisdictions to build and strengthen relationships with NASA researchers. The RID has a three-year base period of performance with a potential single, two-year renewable period of performance. Awards are $125,000 per year. NASA intends to announce the RID opportunity every three to five years, pending funding availability.
- EPSCoR Research Awards solicits topic-specific proposals addressing high-priority NASA research and technology development needs. Awards are up to $750,000 for a three-year performance period. NASA intends to announce the EPSCoR CAN for Research Awards yearly, pending funding availability.