National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation


The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Established (formerly Experimental) Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which was created in 1979, identifies, develops, and makes the best use of a state’s academic science and technology resources. 

Its primary goals are: 

  • Provide strategic programs and opportunities for EPSCoR participants that stimulate sustainable improvements in their R&D capacity and competitiveness; and
  • Advance science and engineering capabilities in EPSCoR jurisdictions for discovery, innovation and overall knowledge-based prosperity 

By improving research infrastructure and increasing the capability of scientists to compete for mainstream programs, NSF EPSCoR is building a high-quality, university-based research and education infrastructure capable of supporting a strong and stable economic base into the 21st century.  

NSF EPSCoR works through a State Committee in each of its eligible jurisdictions.


1.) Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Awards

  • Provide up to $4 million per year for up to five years annually to support academic research infrastructure improvements in R&D areas critical to the state’s long-term S&T competitiveness and economic development. research infrastructure development and in maintaining their competitiveness
  • Provide up to $2 million dollars per year for up to three years to support research utilizing cyberinfrastructure. Track-2 awards are multi-jurisdictional and seek to develop regional strengths.
  • Provide up to $750,000 for up to five years and focus on increasing the participation in STEM fields of underrepresented minorities in underserved rural areas of the United States.
  • Four types:
    1. Track-1: RII Track-1 awards provide up to $20 million total for 5 years to support physical, human, and cyberinfrastructure improvements in research areas selected by the jurisdiction's EPSCoR steering committee as having the best potential to improve future R&D competitiveness of the jurisdiction.
    2. Track-2:  RII Track-2 FEC builds interjurisdictional collaborative teams of EPSCoR investigators in scientific focus areas consistent with NSF priorities. Projects are investigator-driven and must include researchers from at least two RII-eligible jurisdictions. The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) research and education activities should seek to broaden participation through the strategic inclusion and integration of different types of individuals, institutions, and sectors throughout the project. Proposals must describe a comprehensive and integrated vision to drive discovery and build sustainable STEM capacity that exemplifies diversity of all types (individual, institutional, geographic, and disciplinary). The development of diverse early-career faculty is a critical component of this sustainable STEM capacity. For FY 2017, RII Track-2 FEC proposals are invited on a single topic: Genomes to Phenomes.
    3. Track-3:  RII Track-3 awards provide up to $750,000 per award for up to 5 years to support the strategic goal of broadening participation to improve future R&D competitiveness of EPSCoR jurisdictions. RII Track-3 seeks to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields supported by NSF - underrepresented minorities, women, persons with disabilities and those in underserved rural regions of the country. 
    4. Track-4: RII Track-4 provides opportunities for non-tenured investigators to further develop their individual research potential through extended collaborative visits to the nation’s premier private, governmental, or academic research centers. Through these visits, the EPSCoR Research Fellows will be able to learn new techniques, benefit from access to unique equipment and facilities, and shift their research toward transformative new directions. The experience gained through the fellowship is intended to provide a foundation for research collaborations that span the recipient’s entire career. These benefits to the Fellows are also expected to in turn enhance the research capacity of their institutions and jurisdictions. PIs must hold a non-tenured faculty appointment or its close equivalent, either in the form of a pre-tenure tenure-track position or a long-term non-tenure-track position.

2.) Co-funding

  • The goal of co-funding is to accelerate movement of EPSCoR investigators into mainstream NSF research programs. 
  • Since 1998, NSF EPSCoR co-funding has enabled more than 3,000 EPSCoR researchers to win funding in the science and education programs at NSF
  • Co-funding allows the science, engineering, and education programs at NSF to fund more awards to researchers in EPSCoR states by providing partial EPSCoR support for proposals that have been highly rated by the merit review process but for which sufficient funding is not available through the regular process.

Cognizant Office
Office of Integrative Activities
Program Officer

Loretta Moore

Section Head

National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Office of Integrative Activities/ Room W 17136
Alexandria, VA 22314
Agency Website

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