Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI): Instrument Acquisition or Development

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

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. An MRI award supports the acquisition or development of a multi-user research instrument that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs.

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. Additionally, an MRI award is expected to enhance research training of students who will become the next generation of instrument users, designers and builders.

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 $100,0001 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.

Consistent with the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-69), cost sharing of precisely 30% of the total project cost 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 the cost-sharing requirement and cannot include it. National Science Board policy prohibits voluntary committed cost sharing.

Please see the solicitation text for organizational definitions used by the MRI program.

The MRI Program especially seeks broad representation of PIs in its award portfolio, including  women, underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities. Since demographic diversity may be greater among early-career researchers the MRI program also encourages proposals with early-career PIs and proposals that benefit early-career researchers.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: Three (3)

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 $100,0001 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.

 

​Deadlines:

  • Duke internal: Nov. 13, 2019
  • Full Proposals: January 21, 2020

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

  • 47.041 --- Engineering
  • 47.049 --- Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • 47.050 --- Geosciences
  • 47.070 --- Computer and Information Science and Engineering
  • 47.074 --- Biological Sciences
  • 47.075 --- Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences
  • 47.076 --- Education and Human Resources
  • 47.079 --- Office of International Science and Engineering
  • 47.083 --- Office of Integrative Activities (OIA)

Eligibility Requirements

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

Three (3) as described below. Potential PIs are advised to contact their institutional office of research regarding processes used to select proposals for submission.

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).

To ensure a balanced instrumentation award portfolio at diverse organizations, across varied research topics, and in support of a broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce across the entire Nation, the MRI program requires that an MRI-eligible organization may, as a performing organization, submit or be included as a significantly funded 1 subawardee in no more than three MRI proposals. To promote instrumentation development, the program requires that if an organization submits or is included as a significantly funded 1 subawardee in three MRI proposals, at least one of the three proposals must be for (Track 2) instrument development.

NSF reserves the right to carefully examine development (Track 2) proposals to ensure that they meet the requirements for this proposal type (see Section II). If a proposal submitted as development is deemed to be an acquisition proposal either before or during the review, the proposal is subject to return without review or decline.

An 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 requested 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.

Note: The 30% cost-sharing requirement applies to only the portion of the total project cost budgeted to non-exempt organizations, 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. National Science Board policy is that voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited. See section V.B. for specific information on cost-sharing calculations and the solicitation text for definitions of organizational types used for the MRI program.

Amount

$4,000,000

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 160

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.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $75,000,000

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be competing for about $75 million, pending availability of funds and quality of proposals. Up to $30 million of these funds will be available to support proposals requesting $1-$4 million from NSF, depending on overall proposal pressure and quality.

Funding Type

Grant

Eligibility

Faculty
Institutional
Women and minorities encouraged

Category

Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Interdisciplinary
Medical
Medical - Basic Science
Social Sciences

Internal Nomination

Internal Nomination Process:

Owing to the sponsor’s restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as ONE PDF.

  • NSF Project Summary (1 page)
  • NSF Biosketch from PI

Description of the Research Instrument and Needs (Suggested length: up to 2 pages for instrument acquisition; up to 5 pages for instrument development).

An acquisition proposal should include a technical description of the requested instrumentation and clearly explain how the planned research drives the instrumentation request. If applicable, the existence and availability of comparable instrumentation (e.g., at organizations in close geographical proximity, or otherwise accessible through collaborations or cyberinfrastructure) should be discussed and justification for the requested instrument should be made clear.

A proposal to develop an instrument must clearly explain how the planned research drives the needed instrument capabilities and make clear that those capabilities are not available through an instrument purchase. The proposal must succinctly present the design concept, the development strategy and project execution in sufficient detail to allow for the evaluation of the project’s feasibility. Reviewers must be able to evaluate the expected capabilities of the instrument upon completion, and its likely availability for shared use at the end of the award period. If applicable, provide background results from existing equipment or appropriate calculations and/or models to indicate the expected added utility or enhanced performance to be achieved by the new instrument.

A proposal integrating components that when combined serve as a single research instrument must justify the request in the context of the MRI goal of providing support for individual research instruments. The MRI Program does not typically fund common, general-purpose ancillary equipment that would normally be found in a laboratory and/or is relatively easily procured by the organization, nor does MRI support requests for multiple instruments that serve to outfit a general-purpose laboratory or research environment.

  • A rough draft of the budget, including estimates for equipment, salaries, etc., and including the required cost share.

 The above materials should be compiled into one pdf file.

Applicants will need to submit internal materials through My Research Proposal.(Code ILN) http://www.grantinterface.com/sl/lCwRBL

Instructions for setting up your account and uploading internal applications can be found here: https://ors.duke.edu/sites/default/files/Applicant Instructions_FINAL.pdf

Internal Deadline

November 13, 2019

External Deadline

January 21, 2020