National Science Foundation 2021 Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program

The Office of Research is pleased to announce the launch of the 2021 NSF Major Research Instrumentation Program Limited Submission competition. Click here to view more information.

NSF Program Announcement: Link to external program announcement
Number of Possible Internal Nominees: 3
Internal Submission Due Date: Monday, October 12, 2020, 5:00 pm
Selection Notifications: early November, 2020
Sponsor Deadline: January 19, 2021

A Limited Submission is a funding opportunity for which the sponsor sets an institutional limit for the number of proposals it will accept. In order to participate, Syracuse University must organize to submit our most competitive proposal(s). This requires an internal competition.

Synopsis of the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program

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.

Funding and award period

An MRI proposal may request up to $4 million for either acquisition or development of a research instrument. Each performing organization may submit in “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.

Cost sharing of precisely 30% of the total project cost is required.

Award Duration:

  • Acquisition Proposals: Up to 3 years
  • Development Proposals: Up to 5 years

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.

Application Materials

Applicants must submit:

  • Project description (2 pages)
  • Operational and management plan (1 page)
  • Previous reviews if this is a resubmission
  • CVs for the PI and Co-PIs
  • Estimated project cost (1 page)
  • Letter of acknowledgement of cost share from the Associate Dean for Research from the PI’s school or college.

Full details of application requirements may be found on the Syracuse University Application Portal.

Limited Submission Selection Process

Each team interested in submitting an MRI proposal must submit a limited submission proposal by the stated deadline, using the procedure and format described in this section. If the number of proposals submitted exceeds the number that the University can submit to the NSF, peer review will be triggered. Under the peer review process, limited submission applications will be evaluated by a subgroup of the Equipment Task Force established by the Syracuse University Office of Research. This group will rank the proposals in several categories, including:

  • Intellectual merit;
  • Broader impacts;
  • The likelihood of receiving funding based on NSF merit review criteria;
  • The potential increase in research capacity that the equipment will provide to the institution in conjunction with consideration of University research priorities and needs;
  • The utility of the equipment to multiple users; and
  • The strength of the operational and management plan (including planning for maintenance, user support, and cost sharing).

Others’ expertise may be sought to assess the merit of the request, impact on Syracuse University, or cost of installation.

The PIs of projects selected to move forward with full proposals will be notified by email in early November 2020. Per the NSF restrictions, no more than two submissions will be selected in Track 1 and no more than one submission in Track 2.

At the discretion of the Office of Research, internal proposals submitted past the internal deadline will be considered for a full submission to the NSF, on a case-by-case basis, if the addition of an MRI proposal to the NSF would not exceed our institutional limit.

Questions: Email

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