EPSCoR: Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

The Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) was initiated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1979 as a unique infrastructure-building effort to encourage local action to develop long term improvements in a state’s science and engineering (S&E) enterprise. It was created in response to Congressional concerns about geographical concentration of Federal funding of academic research and development (R&D).

Currently twenty-four states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have been identified as EPSCoR states. Through these federal-state partnerships, EPSCoR focuses on science, engineering and technology capabilities that promote national competitiveness. These partnerships help to balance the distribution of federal research dollars and use state or local control in the delivery of program goals.

The success of NSF EPSCoR in the 1980s led Congress to expand the NSF program in the 1990s and early 2000s and create EPSCoR-related programs in the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

All agencies have research competitiveness as a cornerstone upon which the states are to develop strategies leading to future national prominence. Each EPSCoR state designs and executes its own strategic plans by melding exemplary research, education and economic development initiatives into a statewide approach. EPSCoR is a catalyst of change that is widely reviewed as a model federal-state partnership.