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) convened 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.

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.

This series of workshops highlighted both differences and commonalities in strengths, opportunities, and challenges across jurisdictions. By connecting all EPSCoR jurisdictions through these workshops, jurisdictions worked together on different aspects of the developing ecosystem to develop nationwide best practices.

It is expected that additional challenges will need to be discussed and addressed as each jurisdiction grows its respective ecosystem. NSF EPSCoR is excited to entertain future workshops to further develop solutions for these challenges in additional NSF EPSCoR-supported workshops.

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 was designed to allow jurisdictions to connect both individually, and across 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.

Note: The overall purpose of this three-phase workshop series was 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 was not intended for the community to provide recommendations to NSF EPSCoR.

The link below will take you to the best practices and considerations developed by the workshop attendees.

Event Outcomes

Workshop Attendees List