The National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) as a way to promote scientific progress in states that have traditionally received lesser amounts of NSF research and development funding. The primary mechanism the NSF uses to achieve this goal is the Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) program, which awards up to $4 million per year to eligible jurisdictions on a competitive basis. NSF RII grants enable states like Kansas to develop their competitiveness for research funding. RII proposals are submitted by Kansas NSF EPSCoR on behalf of the program partners in the state. Other NSF EPSCoR mechanisms are Co-funding, Workshops and Outreach.
Kansas joined NSF EPSCoR in the early 1990’s and has since received nine EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement awards.
Most recent Kansas RII award projects are:
To accelerate the movement of EPSCoR researchers and institutions into the mainstream of NSF support, EPSCoR launched the Co-funding Mechanism in FY 1998. Co-funding is not a program to which proposals can be submitted. Instead, it is a funding mechanism that operates internally within NSF and does not involve any action on the part of the proposer.* Co-funding provides joint support for certain meritorious proposals submitted to the Foundation's ongoing research, educational, and special emphasis competitions by researchers in the EPSCoR jurisdictions. Those "Fund-if-Possible" proposals, which the merit review process finds to lie at or near the cutoff for funding by the programs to which they were submitted, are the focus of the Co-funding Mechanism.
For such proposals, the Program Officer for the reviewing program first decides whether to make an award recommendation and the amount and duration to be recommended for the award. Once these decisions are made, a request for partial support via EPSCoR co-funding can be forwarded to the EPSCoR Office for consideration. Although these requests are generally granted, some are not. In all cases, the ultimate decision to recommend an award or declination rests with the reviewing program.
The overall annual amount committed to the Co-funding Mechanism is dependent on the number and quality of proposals submitted from EPSCoR jurisdictions and the availability of EPSCoR budget funds for co-funding.
* "Certification" (NSF Form 1404) is no longer required. Currently, any proposal submitted from an institution located in an EPSCoR jurisdiction is marked automatically by FastLane with a specific code. This proposal is then recognizable by the managing Program Officer and considered a potential candidate for EPSCoR co-funding, depending on the outcome of the merit review process.