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)