National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program 2019

Limited Submission Deadline: 5:00 PM Friday, November 16, 2018

Application: Applications are now being accepted through Syracuse University’s Applicant Portal

NSF Proposal Submission Window:  January 1-22, 2019


Synopsis of the NSF 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. 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 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $100,000 and less than $1,000,000.
  • 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.

Proposal submissions within the two tracks may be either for acquisition or development of a research instrument. NSF strongly values MRI proposals that seek to develop next-generation research instruments that open new frontiers of research. As a result the MRI program seeks to support development proposals in numbers (i.e., up to 1/3 of awards) consistent with recent competitions, depending on the numbers and quality of the proposals. 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. National Science Board policy prohibits voluntary committed cost sharing. 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.


Limited Submission Selection Process: Limited submission applications will be evaluated by a subgroup of the Equipment Task Force established by the Office of Research. This group will rank the proposals in several categories, including:

  • 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;
  • 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 SU, or cost of installation. Based on the average rankings, the Vice President of Research will make the final decision on which groups will be asked to submit full proposals in January. The PIs of projects selected to move forward with full proposals will be notified by email on or before Monday, November 26th.