Deadline: June 29, 2018

Agency/Sponsor: National Science Foundation



Additional steps and approval are required for submission to this opportunity. Please see our limited submissions page for more information.

Sponsor Due Date: January 22, 2019

The Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training in our Nation's institutions of higher education and not-for-profit scientific/engineering research organizations that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs.

An MRI proposal may request support for the acquisition or development of a research instrument or components that when combined serve as an integrated research instrument. An MRI-supported instrument is intended to serve multiple users both in research and in the training of the next generation of instrument users and/or developers. MRI provides support to acquire critical research instrumentation without which advances in fundamental science and engineering research may not otherwise occur. MRI also provides support to develop next-generation research instruments that open new opportunities to advance the frontiers in science and engineering research.

An MRI proposal may request up to $4 million for either acquisition or development of a research instrument. Beginning with the FY 2018 competition, each performing organization may submit in revised “Tracks” as defined below, with no more than two submissions in Track 1 and no more than one submission in Track 2.

  • Track 1: Track 1 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $100,000 and less than $1,000,000
  • Track 2: Track 2 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $1,000,000 up to and including $4,000,000

Instrument Acquisition

An MRI acquisition proposal is characterized by a purchase or upgrade of a generally available, yet sophisticated, instrument with little or no modification and risk. MRI does not support the lease/rental of a research instrument, but the purchase of a currently leased instrument at fair market value may be considered.

Instrument Development

A development proposal should demonstrate the need for a new or extensively upgraded instrument with new performance, enabling enhanced or potentially transformative research opportunities, open up new areas of research and research training and/or have potential as a commercial product. MRI development efforts typically require longer timescales for completion than acquisition efforts, and involve design, construction, testing and commissioning such that the equipment cost may not represent the largest portion of the budget. A development proposal also tends to involve greater risk to complete, requiring a risk mitigation plan.

The MRI program will NOT support proposal requests that include the following:

  • Construction, renovation or modernization of rooms, buildings or research facilities.
  • Large, specialized experimental facilities that are constructed with significant amounts of common building material using standard building techniques.
  • General purpose and supporting equipment;
  • Sustaining infrastructure and/or building systems.
  • General-purpose platforms or environment.
    • Instrumentation used primarily for science and engineering education courses.

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