The Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is a science and technology (S&T) research and development program that seeks to enhance research competitiveness in Mississippi. The program’s goals focus on strengthening STEM capacity through increased research capabilities, pathways for the development of STEM professionals, broadened participation of diverse groups and institutions in STEM, and jurisdictional economic development. All of this is achieved through talented researchers at universities across our state.

How It Began: The MRC

Collaboration among the institutions in Mississippi on research efforts was increased and strengthened in 1986 when the Mississippi Research Consortium (MRC), a coalition of Mississippi's four research universities, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi, was formed. The mission of the MRC includes developing research infrastructure to support education and extend technology development in the state and to enhance economic opportunities for the state of Mississippi.

The four Chief Research Officers constitute the Board of Directors, which serves as the driving force for collaborative university-based research. The MRC Board also serves as the Science and Technology Research Advisors to both the Governor and the Legislature with the responsibility for integrating science and technology initiatives with economic development plans in Mississippi. The Board links the physical and intellectual resources of the universities to identify needs and opportunities for the state and to address appropriate responses to those needs and opportunities. The goals of the MRC include to develop, support, and sustain basic and applied research that is nationally competitive; to increase public awareness of science, engineering, and mathematics at every educational level in order to develop a scientifically literate citizenry who will fuel the science and engineering pipeline with the state's own human resources and who will attract external scientific expertise; to establish and maintain a solid scientific infrastructure, including equipment, collaboration, facilities, private sector linkages, and federal laboratory partnerships; and to expand the economic opportunities of the state though technology/knowledge transfer activities that include commercialization, technical assistance, and education of a workforce that can support technology-based industries. NSF EPSCoR has played a major role in supporting the mission of MRC through building of infrastructure and supporting collaborative research.

How It Began: The US National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF EPSCoR program began in Mississippi in 1988, when the governor named the MRC as the State EPSCoR Committee. The state was awarded an NSF EPSCoR grant in 1989, a joint effort of the MRC with Mississippi State University serving as the fiscal agent. Since that time, the program has had an enormous impact within the state and at the four research institutions and their affiliates. Utilizing the multi-institutional framework of the EPSCoR project along with the commitment to creating a critical mass of scientists and engineers, Mississippi EPSCoR has produced a stronger and more competitive research community in the state. 

Other federal agencies have adopted EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like programs, such as the US Department of Defense EPSCoR (DEPSCoR), NASA EPSCoR, USDA EPSCoR, US Department of Energy EPSCoR, and The National Institutes of Health IDeA program.