Exploring EPSCoR Research Ecosystems


With the implementation of the EPSCoR Collaborations for Optimizing Research Ecosystems Research Infrastructure Improvement (E-CORE RII) (NSF 23-587) and EPSCoR Research Incubators for STEM Excellence Research Infrastructure Improvement (E-RISE RII) (NSF 23-588) programs, EPSCoR jurisdictions have an opportunity to greatly expand their research ecosystems in order to further develop their jurisdictional research capacity and broaden the participation of all individuals within the research ecosystems. To continue enhancements in EPSCoR jurisdictions’ research competitiveness in both NSF funding opportunities and those across the Federal funding landscape, NSF EPSCoR is committed to providing EPSCoR jurisdictions with a unique opportunity to develop and implement supporting novel best practices. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks to identify a diverse group of researchers, institutions, government agencies, industry partners, EPSCoR Jurisdictional Science and Technology committee members, and EPSCoR state offices to collaborate on development of these best practices, while also co-developing innovative solutions to research challenges facing EPSCoR jurisdictions.

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The Challenge

In 2021, NSF EPSCoR convened a committee of research professionals and EPSCoR jurisdiction leaders to collect feedback on shaping the future of NSF EPSCoR, which resulted in the Envisioning the Future of NSF EPSCoR Report. In response to that report, along with other reports and critical legislation, NSF EPSCoR launched the E-CORE RII and E-RISE RII programs. As jurisdictions have begun to respond to these new opportunities, feedback pertains to several themes. A summary of these themes is below:

    Jurisdictional Science and Technology Committees:

  • What is the current structure of the Jurisdictional Science and Technology Committees given the unique opportunities and challenges present in EPSCoR Jurisdictions?
  • How can the Jurisdictional Science and Technology Committees co-develop and continue to grow the entire jurisdictional research ecosystem in concert with the E-CORE project(s) present in the jurisdiction as required by the E-CORE program?
  • How can the Jurisdictional Science and Technology Committees most effectively create partnerships with stakeholders beyond academia (e.g., private industry, non-profit organizations, business roundtables, chambers of commerce, business and technology incubators, economic development coalitions)?
  • How can/should the Jurisdictional Science and Technology Committees identify and facilitate opportunities across the jurisdiction?

    Evaluation of the jurisdictional research ecosystem:

  • How will the E-CORE projects, in collaboration with the Jurisdictional Science and Technology Committees, create an evidence-based assessment of the strengths, opportunities, challenges, and successes of the jurisdiction?
  • How can jurisdictions ensure proper focus balancing both the science topic-based opportunities and the underlying fundamental aspects of research capacity that allow a healthy research ecosystem to thrive?

    Co-production of the Jurisdictional Science and Technology Plan:

  • How will the E-CORE RII projects and Jurisdictional Science and Technology Committees use the information gained above to create a “living” Jurisdictional Science and Technology Plan that expresses the strengths, opportunities, and challenges of the jurisdictional research ecosystem as it develops in real-time?

NSF does not expect that there is a single answer to questions within each of these three themes. Each jurisdiction can, and should, develop its own approach based on the intersectionality of the unique strengths, opportunities, and challenges present in its research ecosystem.

NSF expects this series of workshops to highlight both differences and commonalities in strengths, opportunities, and challenges across jurisdictions. By connecting all EPSCoR jurisdictions through these workshops it is envisioned that opportunities for jurisdictions to work together on different aspects of the developing ecosystem to develop nationwide best practices will be revealed.

NSF EPSCoR is excited to entertain future workshops to further develop solutions for these challenges in additional NSF EPSCoR-supported workshops.

It is expected that additional challenges will need to be discussed and addressed as each jurisdiction grows its respective ecosystem. These workshops will provide ample opportunity for other challenges and/or opportunities to be brought forward into the discussion.

The Event

Shifting to a research ecosystem approach is not trivial, and NSF EPSCoR understands that it will require a revision for each EPSCoR jurisdiction based on its own unique strengths, challenges, and opportunities. E-CORE RII and E-RISE RII programs provide significant opportunities and NSF EPSCoR requires key components to be present regarding the scope and co-production within the ecosystem, through collaboration among E-CORE projects, Jurisdictional Science and Technology Committees and Jurisdictional Science and Technology Plans. However, it is not within NSF EPSCoR’s purview to dictate how this should be achieved for each jurisdiction, given the complex nature of the research ecosystem that is unique to each jurisdiction.

Therefore, this series of workshops is designed to allow jurisdictions to connect both individually, and cross sectors and geographies, to work together to identify challenges and opportunities unique to each jurisdiction and then elucidate intersectional best practices to build their respective ecosystems.

These workshops will allow wide conversation to engage with large swaths for stakeholders to ensure broadest participation in the research ecosystem and that every individual, network, and organization has an opportunity to contribute.

To accomplish this, the workshop series is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1 (April 17 and April 18, 2024, 2-6pm ET) – This is a two-part highly interactive virtual workshop series designed to allow broad participation across jurisdictions and sectors. The format will include short plenary sessions and several small group discussion sessions to enable cross-jurisdictional and cross-sector examination of the new ecosystem challenges and opportunities. The output of this phase is the collection of opportunities and challenges of the E-CORE RII and E-RISE RII ecosystem as well as proposed outcomes and best practices. Register Early! Space is limited to the first 950 registrations.
  • Phase 2 (May 22-23, 2024) - This is a two-day in-person workshop, to be held at NSF in Alexandria, Virginia, where the output of the virtual workshop series will be further developed. The three themes above, as well as new themes presented by the EPSCoR community during the virtual events, will be further developed into a collection of best practices and overall feedback to be made available to all jurisdictions. This phase requires a separate, competitive application and is limited to 130 participants. The goal for each jurisdiction is to be well represented at this in-person event. Acceptance is limited to individuals who live/work in EPSCoR jurisdictions to ensure that each jurisdiction is represented equitably and with the broadest range of individuals possible.
  • Phase 3 (June 20, 2024, 2-6pm ET) - This phase will include a final virtual session which will be part of the EPSCoR Live! webinar series open to the general public. This virtual session will include a discussion on the results of the Phase 2 in-person workshop and dissemination of the developed resources available for each jurisdiction.

The workshops will be facilitated by Knowinnovation, Inc., an organization that specializes in working with science researchers and practitioners to accelerate scientific innovation and achieve actionable outcomes.

Note: The overall purpose of this three-phase workshop series is to enable a forum for the community to collaborate and develop tools, best practices, and resources to enhance the research competitive advantage of the overall EPSCoR community. The series is not intended for the community to provide recommendations to NSF EPSCoR.

Who Should Attend

These workshops are designed for a broad range of stakeholders in EPSCoR jurisdictions to have a voice in co-developing the jurisdiction’s research ecosystem. Those who live or work in an EPSCoR jurisdiction and interested in contributing to the jurisdictions’ STEM research ecosystem should consider participating in these workshops. NSF EPSCoR welcomes the participation of all interested parties regardless of sector (academic, industry, Tribal Nations, and/or local and state government), organization type or level, or individual from EPSCoR jurisdictions. Interested participants should register for the virtual workshop series and apply for the in-person event.

How To Apply

Virtual Workshops

To register for the virtual workshop series, click here: Phase 1 Registration. Please note: This registration only enables participation in the virtual workshop series. The application for consideration for the in-person event is below.

In-Person Workshop

To be considered for attendance at the in-person event, apply here: Phase 2 Application. Please note that active participation in the virtual workshop series is required for consideration of participation in the in-person event.

Event Outcomes

Ultimately, the input from the broad EPSCoR community will be developed into a collection of resources for EPSCoR jurisdictions and collaborators. This information will be captured throughout this series of workshops and available here at www.YourEpscorEcosystem.com.

More information

Travel, Accommodations, and M&I per diem reimbursements are being managed by AMA-Consulting. AMA-Consulting will reach out to everyone selected to attend the in-person event with specific details.

If you have questions about the workshop or registration process, email our team at [email protected]. For questions about the E-CORE Program please email [email protected], for the E-RISE Program email [email protected]. For general inquiries about EPSCoR programs please email [email protected].

Community Partnerships and Participation

Broadening participation in EPSCoR jurisdictions through meaningful collaboration with community partners is a central component of E-CORE RII and E-RISE RII ecosystems. Whether you represent a business, community economic development board, K-12 school district, or other government entity, this is an opportunity to help shape the future of the research ecosystem within your community. For example, as business leaders, may advocate for the inclusion of workforce development programs in E-RISE proposals submitted by entities within the jurisdiction. K-12 schools may collaborate on developing effective ways to better prepare students for the evolving academic research or workforce landscape. Participation in the workshop from a range of community partners is needed, welcomed, and encouraged.