The Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) are federal-state-university partnerships designed to increase extramural research support for those states who have historically received low levels of federal R&D funds. South Carolina EPSCoR/IDeA leverages federal and state support to build research infrastructure; infuse research into education; provide opportunities for diverse groups of institutions, students, faculty, and disciplines in science and technology; and increase collaboration among key stakeholders of the state's science and technology enterprise. Since 1990, South Carolina EPSCoR/IDeA funds have enabled the hire of more than 95 junior, tenure-track faculty members in science and technology at five South Carolina colleges and universities. These junior faculty complement existing senior scientists, forming research teams that pioneer approaches to address challenges in science and society.

EPSCoR program funding is offered by five federal agencies: Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The IDeA program in South Carolina is comprised of the INBRE program and the COBRE program and is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

SC EPSCoR/IDeA encourages collaborative and complementary research among the state's Comprehensive Research Universities (CRU) – Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina; and Predominately Undergraduate Institutions (PUI) including Benedict College, Coastal Carolina University, The College of Charleston, Winthrop University, Francis Marion University, Furman University, Claflin University, South Carolina State University (the state's largest public historically black university).