National Science Foundation

NSF: Major Research Instrumentation Program: Instrument Acquisition or Development

Program Summary

The Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) serves to increase access to shared scientific and engineering instruments for research and research training in our Nation's institutions of higher education, and not-for-profit museums, science centers and scientific/engineering research organizations. This program especially seeks to improve the quality and expand the scope of research and research training in science and engineering, by supporting proposals for shared instrumentation that fosters the integration of research and education in research-intensive learning environments. Each MRI proposal may request support for the acquisition (Track 1) or development (Track 2) of a single research instrument for shared inter- and/or intra-organizational use; development efforts that leverage the strengths of private sector partners to build instrument development capacity at MRI submission-eligible organizations are encouraged.


Three proposals per organization are permitted.  If three proposals are submitted, at least one of the proposals must be for instrument development (i.e., no more than two proposals may be for instrument acquisition).

Instruments are expected to be operational for regular research use by the end of the award period. For the purposes of the MRI program, proposals must be for acquisition or development of a single instrument or for equipment that, when combined, serves as an integrated research instrument (physical or virtual). The MRI program does not support the acquisition or development of a suite of instruments to outfit research laboratories/facilities or to conduct independent research activities simultaneously.

To promote instrumentation development, the program requires that if an organization submits or is included as a significantly funded1 subawardee in three MRI proposals, at least one of the three proposals must be for instrument development.

1An unfunded collaboration does not count against the submission limit. Inclusion as a funded subawardee on a development (Track 2) proposal at a level in excess of 20% of the total budget request from NSF, or as a funded subawardee on any acquisition (Track 1) proposal, will be counted against an organization's proposal submission limit. Separately submitted linked collaborative proposals of either type (Track 1 or Track 2) count against the submission limit of each of the submitting organizations. However, if a subaward to an organization in a development (Track 2) proposal is 20% or less of the proposal's total budget request from NSF, the subawardee's submission limit will not be affected. For subawards within a linked collaborative proposal, the 20% threshold applies to the budget request from NSF in the proposal containing the subaward(s), not to the combined budget request from NSF for the collaborative project.

Award Information

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be competing for about $90 million, pending availability of funds and quality of proposals.

Proposals that request funds from NSF in the range $100,000-$4 million may be accepted from any MRI-eligible organization. Proposals that request funds from NSF less than $100,000 may also be accepted from any MRI-eligible organization for the disciplines of mathematics or social, behavioral and economic sciences and from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education for all NSF-supported disciplines.

Proposers may request an award period up to three years for acquisition proposals and up to five years for development proposals. The anticipated earliest starting date is August 01 in the year of the proposal's submission.

The 30% cost-sharing requirement applies to only the portion of the total project cost budgeted to non-exempt organization(s), including those participating through subawards. When required, cost-sharing must be precisely 30%. Cost sharing is required for Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education and for non-degree-granting organizations. Non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education are exempt from cost-sharing and cannot provide it.


Internal Selection Procedure
The Office of the Vice President for Research has established an internal review procedure to select the UI nominees.  Applications will be reviewed according to the sponsor's selection criteria.  Consideration will also be given to UI institutional strengths and strategic directions.  Potential applicants must submit, using the preselection link below, the following information:
1.   A two page CV
2.   A description of the proposed instrumentation.  It should have the following elements:
(a) Instrument location and Type
(b) Research activities to be enabled.  In addition, describe how the instrument will build institutional capacity for securing NSF and other sponsored funding.
(c)   Description of the research instrumentation and needs.
(d) Impact on research and training infrastructure.  In addition, describe how acquisition of the instrument will build institution-wide collaboration.  How will the instrument enhance the educational mission of the university?  If a developmental instrument is planned, how will it foster partnerships between academia and the private sector?
(e) Management plan 
The above materials must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 1, 2013.  The selected nominees will be asked to complete the full application package in accordance with the sponsor's deadline of Thursday, January 23, 2014.

Proposal Due to OVPRED11/01/2013 Not open for submission deadline passed
Date Due to DSP or UIF01/16/2014
Date Due to Sponsor01/23/2014
Required LOI Due DateN/A
Non-Required LOI Due DateN/A
Sponsor URL:

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