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Mid-scale Research Infrastructure-2 (Mid-scale RI-2)
NSF-supported science and engineering research increasingly relies on cutting-edge infrastructure. With its Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program and Major Multi-user Research Facility projects (Major Facilities), NSF supports infrastructure projects at the lower and higher ends of infrastructure scales across science and engineering research disciplines. The Mid-scale Research Infrastructure Programs are intended to provide NSF with an agile, Foundation-wide process to fund experimental research capabilities in the mid-scale range between the MRI and Major Facilities thresholds. In alignment with NSF’s goal to bring together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergent research, proposals submitted in response to this solicitation will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.
NSF defines Research Infrastructure (RI) as any combination of facilities, equipment, instrumentation, or computational hardware or software, and the necessary human capital in support of the same. Major facilities and mid-scale projects are subsets of research infrastructure. The NSF Mid-scale RI-2 Program supports the implementation of unique and compelling RI projects. Mid-scale RI-2 projects may include any combination of equipment, instrumentation, cyberinfrastructure, broadly used large-scale data sets, and the commissioning and/or personnel needed to successfully complete the project. Mid-scale RI-2 projects should fill a research community-defined scientific need, or address an identified national research priority, that enables current and next-generation U.S. researchers and a diverse STEM workforce to remain competitive in a global research environment. Mid-scale RI-2 projects will directly enable advances in any of the research domains supported by NSF, including STEM education research, and translational research. Projects may also include upgrades to existing research infrastructure. The total cost for Mid-scale RI-2 projects ranges from $20 million to below the threshold for a Major Facility Project, currently $100 million. Preliminary and full proposals to the Mid-scale RI-2 Program with total project costs outside this solicitation's budgetary limits will be returned without review.
The Mid-scale RI-2 Program emphasizes projects that have strong scientific merit, respond to an identified need of the research community, demonstrate technical and project management readiness for implementation, include a well-developed plan for student training in all activities leading to and including the implementation of the mid-scale research infrastructure, and involve a diverse workforce in mid-scale research infrastructure development, and/or associated data management. Training of students in design and implementation of the research infrastructure is essential.
The Mid-scale RI-2 Program seeks to broaden the representation of PIs and institutions in its award portfolio, including a geographically diverse set of institutions (especially those in EPSCoR jurisdictions). PIs who are women, early-career researchers, members of groups that are underrepresented in STEM, and persons with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply. To improve participation in science and engineering research for persons with disabilities, Mid-scale RI-2 encourages PIs to incorporate accessibility as part of a Mid-scale RI-2 project.
Mid-scale RI-2 will consider only the implementation (typically construction or acquisition) stage of a project, including a limited degree of final development or necessary production design immediately preparatory to implementation. It is thus intended that Mid-scale RI-2 will support projects in well-developed states of project management and technical readiness for implementation, i.e., those that have already matured through previous developmental investments. Accordingly, Mid-scale RI-2 does not support pre-implementation (early-stage design or development) activities. Mid-scale RI-2 also does not support post-implementation research, operations or maintenance, the anticipated source(s) of support for which are expected to be discussed in the proposal.
Required Letter of Intent Deadline Date: May 15, 2023
Required Preliminary Proposal Deadline Date: June 20, 2023
Full Proposal Deadline Date: Dec. 18, 2023 (Submission by invitation only)
Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
- Proposals may only be submitted by organizations located in the United States, its territories or possessions, as follows:
- Institutions of higher education (Ph.D.-granting and non-Ph.D.-granting), acting on behalf of their faculty members, that are accredited in and have their main campus in the United States, its territories or possessions. Distinct academic campuses (e.g., that award their own degrees, have independent administrative structures, admissions policies, alumni associations, etc.) within multi-campus systems qualify as separate submission-eligible institutions.
- Not-for-profit, non-degree-granting domestic U.S. organizations, acting on behalf of their employees, for example (but not limited to) independent museums and science centers, observatories, research laboratories and similar organizations that are directly associated with the Nation's research activities. These organizations must have an independent, permanent administrative organization (e.g., a sponsored projects office) located in the United States, its territories or possessions, and have 501(c)(3) tax status.
- Consortia as follows:
- A legally incorporated, not-for-profit consortium that includes two or more submission-eligible organizations as described in items (1) and (2) above. Such a consortium is one with an independent administrative structure (e.g., a sponsored projects office) located in the United States, its territories or possessions and has 501(c)(3) status.
- Submission-eligible organizations as described in items (1) and (2) above, on behalf of an informal consortium. The cover sheet of such a proposal must identify both a PI and co-PI(s) from at least two Mid-scale RI-2 submission-eligible organizations (items 1 and/or 2 above) as lead investigators in the consortium. These consortium proposals may also include as partners other U.S. and non-U.S. organizations that are not eligible to submit Mid-scale RI-2 proposals.
In either case, the proposal title should indicate that a consortium is proposing.
For-profit commercial organizations, especially U.S. small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education, are eligible for infrastructure development support through subawards/subcontracts as private sector partners with submitting organizations; they may not submit proposals. Such partnerships must be substantive and meaningful, and build capacity for infrastructure development within Mid-scale RI-2 submission-eligible organization(s). Unless otherwise specified in the award, the title to the resulting infrastructure should be retained by the Mid-scale RI-2-eligible performing organization(s). Prospective PIs may contact the cognizant Mid-scale RI-2 program officer regarding organizational eligibility, and for information on other NSF funding opportunities for instrumentation and research infrastructure.
- Major Facilities-related Proposals: The Mid-scale RI-2 program will not accept proposals for an instrument or other infrastructure that augments an ongoing NSF Major Multi-user Research Facility (Major Facility) project in the construction stage since the scope of those projects is already defined. A list of such facilities can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/lfo/.
- FFRDC-related Proposals: Although NSF's Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) are eligible to submit under item 2) above, proposals involving another Federal agency or one of its FFRDCs can only be submitted as a consortium proposal by a Mid-scale RI-2 submission-eligible organization under item 3(b) above. In addition to at least two Mid-scale RI-2 eligible organizations, the proposal must include the agency/FFRDC (or its managing organization) as a partner in the consortium, even if the role of the FFRDC in the project is solely to house the infrastructure. The research infrastructure must make unique contributions to the needs of researchers within the consortium and/or establish access to new multi-user research capabilities. Preliminary inquiry to the cognizant Mid-scale RI-2 point of contact should be made before preparing a proposal for submission.
Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:
There is no limit on the number of preliminary proposals an organization may submit as the lead organization. Full proposals are to be submitted only if/when invited by NSF. There is no limit to participation as a partner organization or subawardee.
Although more than one organization may participate in a proposal, a single organization must accept overall management responsibility for the project. The proposal must be submitted by one organization, with funding provided to any other organization through subawards. The use of the separately submitted collaborative proposal method is not permitted.
Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or co-PI: 2
An individual may serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) or a co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) for no more than two (2) proposals. A PI or co-PI for a preliminary proposal that is not invited for a full proposal submission may serve as a participant or co-PI on an invited full proposal at the full-proposal organization's and PI's discretion.
Estimated Number of Awards: 2 to 5
Subject to the availability of funds and quality of proposals received.
Anticipated Funding Amount: $150,000,000 to $200,000,000
Total funds available are anticipated to be approximately $150 million to $200 million over five years.
Individual awards from $20 million up to but not including $100 million are anticipated for advanced design and implementation, pending availability of funds. Duration of the award may be up to five (5) years.
Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.