ND EPSCoR Results

North Dakota is increasing its research competitiveness for merit-based grants and contracts from federal, regional, and private sources. 

  • From 2006-2012, ND’s academic research expenditures increased 33%, from $161M to $215M.
  • The NSF State Science & Engineering Profile shows that ND’s ranking for academic R&D rose from 44th in 2003 to 41st in 2010 (latest data available) and led the nation in the rate of improvement.
  • Between 2005-2009, Federal R&D Obligations per capita to Universities and Colleges increased 26.1% in North Dakota. Science and Engineering Graduate Students by State increased 34.1%.
  • Sourceshttp://nsf.gov/statistics/states/show.cfm?stateID=53,35&year=2003

    ND EPSCoR activities support research, STEM education and diversity, and technology transfer programs that create economic value, jobs, and societal benefits.  From 1986-2013, North Dakota has invested $46.6M in ND EPSCoR; the cash return has been $262M in merit-based research awards.

    ND EPSCoR has:

  • Contributed to the recruitment of >200 new faculty researchers to the state
  • Supported >2, 000 graduate and undergraduate students
  • Produced 2,350 publications
  • Invested in >460 new pieces of research equipment
  • Generated >30 patents and licenses
  • Provided STEM education and research opportunities to an average of 244 tribal high school and college students annually
  • Enhanced  S&T opportunities for 98 companies and >100 students through the STTAR (Students in Technology Transfer and Research) program
  • Contributed to establishment of new high-technology businesses

  • Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII)

    ND EPSCoR was awarded a five year $15 M Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track 1 grant from the  National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2008.  In addition, the State of North Dakota has invested $16.9M during this award period.

    Leveraged together, this funding has in the last five years:
    (1) en­hanced research infrastructure;
    (2) provided funding to increase faculty capacity and competitiveness;
    (3) expanded cyber-enabled communication, discovery and innovation;
    (4) broadened and diversified the STEM pipeline; and,
    (5) initiated university-private sector partnerships to convert research results into opportunities for ND residents. Its intellectual merit lies in the establishment of durable, competitive research infrastructure with a primary focus on renewable energy and materials.

    Research Infrastructure Improvement Accomplishments.


    The SUNRISE (Sustainable ENergy Research Infrastructure and Supporting Education) and SMS (Sustainable Materials Science) groups, supported by the RII Track 1 grant, have collectively received $33M in external awards. Over 30 faculty have been involved with the research programs and two new faculty positions were added. Results include: 161 publications, 5 patents, and 6 invention disclosures. Student training included participation of 26 undergraduates, 56 graduate students, and 10 postdocs.

    Faculty Capacity and Competitiveness

    Infrastructure investments led tohiring of new faculty and postdoctoral students, expanded support for junior researchers, including mentoring, workshops, seed funding, faculty start-up support, and increased support of graduate research.  A direct result was increased faculty cap­acity and competitiveness and improved faculty retention. Sixty-six (66) new faculty in more than 20 STEM departments received awards totaling $5.4M in 2008-12. The retention rate of new faculty hires is approximately 90 percent.


    Cyberconnectivity has been enhanced. The deployment of 10 Gbps connections to buildings anddesktops and single mode fiber optic cable to 30 campus buildings at NDSU provided the capability to connect tothe network core at computational research speeds.  Visualization capabilities were also added.  Track 1 also enabled ND EPSCoR and four of the state's Tribal Colleges -- Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CC), Fort Berthold CC, Turtle Mountain CC, and United Tribes Technical College - to submit and receive a $1M NSF Cyberconnectivity (C2) award, entitled Cyberconnectivity: Enhancing North Dakota Tribal College Research and Education, to improve network infrastructure at thetribal colleges. CI upgrades support for over 2,000 students with an emphasis on video conferencing, extended workforce development opportunities and fuller integration of research, education, and diversity initiatives with the colleges.

    Education, Outreach, and Diversity

    Two programs serve to broaden participation, increase diversity, and engage the state's major underrepresented groups in ND, Native Americans and women, in the STEM enterprise. The first, developed with EPSCoR support, is the Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE), a multifaceted program that has greatly increased the involvement of our five TCs in STEM education and research. An average of 244 students participate in these programs annually. Student participation in NATURE has increased from the first year of the award to 2012. The second is Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a program that provides supplemental funding to women faculty for lab upgrades and additional research staff. 

    Technology Transfer and Commercialization

    University-Private Sector Partnerships

    ND EPSCoR’s goals include increasing private sector partnerships, new product research, and creating technology-based start-up companies. SUNRISE averaged 12 private partnerships yearly, had 14 new product investigations, and produced 1 new start-up.  The SUNRISE team developed new crop oil based jet fuels with gel characteristics suitable for high altitude, low temperature conditions; and the SMS team has patents pending for new families of nylons from sunflower oil with exceptional thermal properties. Seed funding for Product Design Center projects led to the development of decorative coatings, the basis of a ND startup company, Elinor Coatings, in ND. Similar funding led to scale-up technology for a semiconductor material that is now licensed to Nippon Shokubai to manufacture the material for the Asian market. In addition, the STTAR program supported 110 students to work in regional industries on science and technology projects.

    Technology Transfer and Commercialization

    Students in Technology Transfer and Research (STTAR): The STTAR program provides upper-division students (i.e., juniors through graduate students) in science, engineering, and mathematics with an opportunity to use their academic training and experience to address the most challenging science and technology-based problems faced by North Dakota companies. The primary emphasis of STTAR is on research and development.

    ND EPSCoR established the STTAR program in 1994 in response to recognized state and national needs for increased technology transfer from universities to industry. Since that time, over 93 North Dakota companies from across the state have participated in this highly successful program.

    Product Design Center (PDC): The PDC is designed to bridge the gap between basic discoveries and commercialization. Seed funding has been awarded to execute proof of concept, to scale up technology and to advance projects with commercial potential. This program led to the development of decorative coatings for monuments, plaques and statues that is the basis of a North Dakota startup company, Elinor Coatings. Similar funding led to scale up technology for a semiconductor material that is now licensed to Nippon Shokubai who will manufacture the material for the Asian market.