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EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1: (RII Track-1)

Grants to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, and IHEs in Multiple States
to Enhance STEM Research and Development Capacity

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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National Science Foundation (NSF)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

08/21/17 5:00 PM Submitter's Local Time


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Grants to eligible USA States and territories nonprofits, for-profits, and academic institutions for capacity building to enhance research and development in the STEM fields. LOIs are due July 31. This program supports the development and improvement of cyber infrastructure, physical infrastructure, and human capital.

A jurisdiction (state or territory) is eligible to participate in the NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Grant Program (RII) if their most recent 3-year level of NSF research support is equal to or less than 0.75% of the total NSF Research and Related Activities (R&RA) budget.

Eligible jurisdictions currently include: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, Guam, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands.

Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-1 (RII Track-1) awards support improvements to physical and cyber infrastructure and human capital development 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. The research activities of the project must align with the specific research priorities identified in the approved Science and Technology (S&T) Plan of the jurisdiction.

Criteria for Eligibility to Participate in the Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-1: (RII Track-1)

Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1 (RII Track-1) eligibility is based on two primary considerations:

-A jurisdiction's demonstrated commitment to develop its research foundation and to improve the quality of STEM research conducted at its universities and colleges, and

-A jurisdiction's most recent three-year history of research funds awarded by NSF relative to the Foundation's total research budget for that same period.

Regarding the second consideration, a jurisdiction is eligible to participate in EPSCoR programs if its level of NSF research support is equal to or less than 0.75 percent of the total NSF research and related activities budget averaged over the most recent three year period (see RII eligibility). Adjustments are made in the rare instances where a single large NSF-funded national or international facility skews the data.

A newly eligible jurisdiction must have received a planning grant and have developed a jurisdiction Science and Technology (S&T) Plan before an RII proposal can be submitted. A "new" EPSCoR-eligible jurisdiction is defined as a State, US Territory, or US Commonwealth that (1) previously did not qualify via the established 0.75 percent criterion, but is declared eligible under the most recent publication of the annual NSF EPSCoR eligibility list and (2) has demonstrated commitment to developing its research bases. Planning grant proposals can be submitted at any time following the most recent declaration of eligibility.

Newly eligible jurisdictions may seek such planning support to formulate a documented vision consistent with the jurisdiction's S&T Plan and an implementation design for their research, education, and innovation strategies. An expected outcome from any supported planning activity is the submission of a competitive RII proposal and proposals to NSF, which combine capacity-building with capability enhancement for addressing bold opportunities characterized by regional relevance and national importance.

A jurisdiction wishing to submit a planning grant proposal must notify NSF EPSCoR of the intent to submit with a brief description of the intended planning activities and then meet with NSF EPSCoR officials to discuss the conceptual project, potential partners and estimated cost. Depending on the outcome of these discussions, the jurisdiction may be invited to submit an EPSCoR planning proposal.

Any currently participating EPSCoR jurisdiction that does not meet the 0.75 percent eligibility criterion in a given fiscal year for an RII competition will continue to be eligible for EPSCoR Co-Funding and Outreach funding for the subsequent three years.

RII Track-1 Program Description:

The Research and Education Program is the central piece of the RII Track-1 proposal. The intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed activities provide the rationale for the requested infrastructure investments that, in turn, enhance the overall research capacity and competitiveness of the jurisdiction. These proposals are unique in their jurisdiction-wide scope and complexity; in their integration of individual researchers, institutions, and organizations; and in their role in developing the diverse, well-prepared, STEM-enabled workforce necessary to sustain research competitiveness and catalyze economic development.

Essential to EPSCoR's goal of enhancing the competitive position of jurisdictions' research and education in science and engineering is a well-designed jurisdiction-wide Science and Technology (S&T) Plan, which must be officially accepted or approved at the jurisdiction level, either via the EPSCoR jurisdiction steering committee or a governing official or body acting on behalf of the jurisdiction, in order to submit an RII Track-1 proposal. The S&T Plan establishes jurisdiction-wide research priorities, including specific goals and objectives, and provides a framework that guides the jurisdiction's utilization of resources from EPSCoR and other stakeholders to achieve them. The S&T Plan should be informed by the jurisdiction's Economic Development Plan (if applicable) and should describe innovation pathways for bringing outputs and outcomes of the proposed RII Track-1 research to the marketplace. The S&T Plan must be submitted with an RII Track-1 proposal in Supplementary Documentation (see section V.A.10.3 of this solicitation for specific requirements). The S&T Plan will be considered during proposal review with respect to the additional solicitation specific review criteria (esp., Jurisdictional Impacts; see section VI.A.2 Merit Review Criteria, below). Proposals which do not include the most recent, approved S&T Plan of the submitting jurisdiction, including clear evidence of official acceptance or approval by the jurisdiction, will be returned without review.

Each jurisdiction must establish and utilize an EPSCoR steering committee that works closely with leaders in academe, government, and the private sector. The committee will identify potential R&D improvement strategies and activities that are consistent with the S&T Plan and most likely to advance the development of a nationally competitive academic R&D capability. The strategies for academic R&D capability are expected to promote activities in support of EPSCoR program goals (see I.A EPSCoR Mission and Goals, above).

In preparation for submitting a proposal, the EPSCoR steering committee of the jurisdiction is expected to have undertaken a recent comprehensive analysis of the strengths, barriers, and opportunities for further development of its institutions (including a wide range of organizations, universities, schools, and industries) in support of overall objectives in research, education, and innovation. The steering committee should evaluate the maturity of ongoing efforts as well as the potential new research directions and their alignment with the STEM research priorities identified in the jurisdiction S&T plan. An EPSCoR RII Track-1 proposal must describe how the project's STEM research activities will align with the specific research priorities of the jurisdiction's S&T Plan as well as the strategy and implementation mechanisms to develop, use, and sustain the diverse human, physical, and technological resources within the jurisdiction.

Successful proposals provide sound platforms and opportunities for enhanced academic R&D competitiveness of a jurisdiction's colleges and universities, including implementation mechanisms that have a high probability of realizing stated goals and objectives and pragmatic plans for generation of sustained non- EPSCoR support. It is expected that the infrastructure improvement strategies will enable targeted research areas to become viable for securing new sources of future non-EPSCoR funding.

Infrastructure enhancement strategies should focus available resources on enabling and conducting research, education, and innovation activities that are consistent with specified long-term jurisdictional and regional objectives. In conjunction with this focus, the proposed education activities, innovation projects, workforce development efforts, and other project activities should be integrated with identified research theme(s). EPSCoR strives for improvements that will significantly increase the R&D capacity of a jurisdiction to enable stronger competitiveness in NSF, including large scale and cross-cutting opportunities.

Examples of RII Track-1 Activities:

Examples of RII Track-1 activities for jurisdictional research and educational infrastructure improvement include, but are not limited to:

-Pursuit of hypothesis- or problem-driven research (or both) that requires a comprehensive and integrative approach to a grand challenge in a scientific area of regional or jurisdictional importance/relevance (research of recognized national or global importance is also encouraged, but as noted elsewhere, the proposed research activities must align with the STEM research priorities of the jurisdiction S&T Plan);

-Support for competitive levels of "start-up" funding for new faculty (this should connect to the project research activities or new and emerging areas as outlined in the proposal);

-Support for competitive levels of strategic funding to attract and/or retain established faculty who are active researchers in areas aligned with the project research activities of the proposal;

-Development of meaningful partnerships, including jurisdictional and regional collaborations, among EPSCoR jurisdiction-based colleges and universities; strong intellectual engagement of participants from institutions of higher education in EPSCoR jurisdictions and nationally recognized centers of R&D activity (e.g., federal and industrial R&D laboratories, NSF-sponsored research centers, and academic institutions with nationally- recognized research capabilities); and productive partnerships between the jurisdiction's universities and the private sector in the region. Of special value are those alliances that increase linkages between EPSCoR researchers and their counterparts in research and/or technology-based small businesses and thereby increase the competitiveness of the jurisdiction's S&T entrepreneurial talent for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants;

-Integration of research and education by establishing research training groups for undergraduate or graduate students, or similar appropriate mechanisms, to encourage multidisciplinary research-based educational experiences and connections with the private sector, industry, and national laboratories;

-Support for faculty and student teams that include women, minorities underrepresented in STEM, and persons with disabilities (the economically disadvantaged, rural populations, or first generation college students may also be appropriate for the jurisdiction) that will result in a strong, quantifiable impact on the STEM workforce;

-Support for the acquisition of equipment for research and other discovery-based learning activities;

-Support for projects targeting the full diversity of institutions across the jurisdiction, including 2-year, 4-year, and minority-serving institutions; and, Support for activities that promise extraordinary outcomes including revolutionizing disciplines, creating new fields, or disrupting accepted theories and perspectives.

All proposed activities should be related to and integrated with the proposed research themes. EPSCoR RII Track-1 support should not duplicate other available federal, jurisdictional, or institutional resources and should increase scientific competitiveness at the national or regional level.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 174399

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Up to 5 awards are anticipated

Estimated Size of Grant:

There is no restriction on the amount requested annually, but the total request is limited to $20 million over 5 years.

Term of Contract:

Funding requests must be for a duration of 5 years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

Only jurisdictions that meet the EPSCoR eligibility criteria may submit proposals to the Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1 (RII Track-1) competition. In addition, only eligible EPSCoR jurisdictions with current RII Track-1 awards that expire before October 1, 2018 and those without current RII Track-1 awards may compete in the FY 2018 RII Track-1 competition. The jurisdiction's EPSCoR steering committee must designate a fiscal agent/proposing organization as the responsible recipient for the RII Track-1 award. This must be the employing organization of the Project Director. The jurisdiction must have in place an official, approved Science and Technology (S&T) Plan in order to submit an RII Track-1 proposal.

Who May Serve as PI:

The Project Director and Principal Investigators of proposed EPSCoR projects must be affiliated with research universities, agencies, or organizations within the participant jurisdiction. In addition, the Project Director must be the lead Principal Investigator and be employed by the fiscal agent/proposing organization.

Eligible Organizations and Institutions:

Proposals requesting funds for research infrastructure improvement may include support for academic, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations, as well as individuals employed by such organizations. Cooperative programs among research universities within EPSCoR jurisdictions or between a jurisdiction's research universities and predominately undergraduate institutions, especially minority serving institutions, qualify for EPSCoR support and are encouraged.

In all cases, the Project Director and Principal Investigators of proposed EPSCoR projects must be affiliated with research universities, agencies, or organizations within the participant jurisdiction. In addition, the Project Director must be the lead Principal Investigator and be employed by the fiscal agent/proposing organization. Whereas the proposed project may employ collaborations between EPSCoR and non-EPSCoR jurisdictions including international participants, EPSCoR funding must only be requested for and expended in EPSCoR jurisdictions. EPSCoR funding may not be used to support participants from non-EPSCoR jurisdictions, whether it be through a formal or informal mechanism including, but not limited to, research experiences, internships, workshops, summer camps, or outreach activities. (This restriction does not preclude the involvement of non-EPSCoR participants when their participation does not incur significant, additional costs).

Pre-Application Information:

Cost sharing at a level of at least, and no more than, 20 percent of the amount requested from NSF is required for all proposals submitted in response to this solicitation.

Proposals may be submitted via FastLane or

Letters of Intent (required) are due by 5:00 PM (submitter’s local time) on July 31, 2017.

Full Proposals are due by 5:00 PM (submitter’s local time) on August 21, 2017.

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Sean C. Kennan
(703) 292-7575

Raffaella Montelli
(703) 292-2421

Timothy M. VanReken
(703) 292-7378

Uma D. Venkateswaran
(703) 292-7732

C. Susan Weiler
(703) 292-7860

CFDA Number:

47.041 --- Engineering / 47.049 --- Mathematical and Physical Sciences / 47.050 --- Geosciences / 47.070 --- Computer and Information Science and Engineering / 47.074 --- Biological Sciences / 47.075 --- Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences / 47.076 --- Education and Human Resources / 47.079 --- Office of International Science and Engineering / 47.083 --- Office of Integrative Activities (OIA)

Funding or Pin Number:

NSF 17-562

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arkansas;   Delaware;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Mississippi;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Mexico;   North Dakota;   Oklahoma;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Vermont;   West Virginia;   Wyoming

USA Territories: Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)