The Defense Department recently began an initiative called the Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
DEPSCoR is all about searching underrepresented U.S. "states and territories for researchers with important contributions to [DOD's] scientific enterprise," said Bindu Nair, acting director of DOD's Basic Research Office. "It's crucial that we build a [DOD] research infrastructure that leaves no state behind."
Nair said that institutions of higher education are especially relevant for building research capacity as they are incubators of science and engineering research and they operate under robust peer-review systems.
To avoid technological surprise and to maintain battlefield dominance against peer competitors like Russia and China, Nair said it is important for every state to be involved in cutting-edge defense research that could potentially lead to greater lethality.
DEPSCoR is targeting the states and territories that have received the least funding from DOD science and engineering research programs as a way to increase competition and innovation.
The program is congressionally mandated and has directed over $8.5 million toward program grants this fiscal year, with more to potentially follow in coming years.
DEPSCoR is also funding $3.45 million in outreach and support to help higher education institutions to learn more about the program and navigate DOD's paperwork process.