(CLOSED) NSF 18-513 - Major Research Instrumentation Program

Sponsor Name: 
Description of the Award: 

The Penn State Limited Submission Program manages the response to research funding opportunities for which a limited number of submissions are permitted from Penn State. For the NSF-Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program (NSF 18-513), each Penn State campus may submit up to three proposals, with up to two in Track 1 (Track 1 proposals are those requesting from NSF $100,000 to less than $1 million) and one in Track 2 (Track 2 proposals are those requesting from NSF $1 million up to and including $4 million). Again this year, the cost share for this program will be covered centrally.

We are having the NSF-MRI downselect early to allow the PIs more time to prepare their proposals. Please note that major deadlines are occurring over the summer. If you are aware of any PIs who may be interested in the downselect, please inform them now so they can plan accordingly. Although each campus is considered an independent institution for the NSF-MRI, all applications must be submitted through the Limited Submissions site at University Park.


NSF-MRI Downselect 2018/2019 Timeline

July 25: Workshop for interested applicants in 404 Old Main from 1:30 - 3:00 P.M.

August 7: Internal Notice of Intent (NOI) Due (REQUIRED)

August 27: Internal Downselect Application Due

Late September: Inform the applicants of selection

January 10: Final Proposal due to SIRO

January 1 - 22, 2019: NSF Proposal Window

Synopsis of 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: 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.

Penn State Requirements:

Penn State will cover centrally the required 30% match for those proposals with instruments that are clearly shared across a broad community across Penn State.

Successful internal applications will need to demonstrate notable prior NSF funding of the PI and team, relevance of the instrument to a broad cluster of NSF funded faculty and a sustainable management plan.

Please note, the Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Office (SIRO) will be the submitting unit for at least 3 of the selected proposals. SIRO offers a full range of proposal development services including proposal development coordination, budget development, match coordination, document editing, graphics support, and Red Team review.

STEP ONE: NSF MRI Workshop – July 25

404 Old Main from 1:30-3:00 PM

Any faculty member or team planning to submit an NOI is advised to attend this workshop.

STEP TWO: Notices of Intent (NOI) Due August 7 (4 PM) REQUIRED

If a faculty team in your college/unit plans to participate in the internal downselect, the Principal Investigator will need to complete the internal Notice-of-Intent (NOI), which should include:

  • Project Title
  • Track 1 or Track 2
  • Full Contact information for PI & Co-PIs
  • A brief description of the instrumentation
  • The anticipated location of the instrument (campus, building, and room)
  • Estimated budget

This form is a requirement and must be completed and submitted online before proceeding with step three

STEP THREE: Internal Downselect Applications from ALL campuses Due August 27 (4 PM)

In addition to submitting the NOI, the PI will need to complete the internal downselect application, which will expand on the above criteria and other issues specific to the solicitation and the instrument proposed. The downselect application will be available on this site August 25, 2017 at 5 PM.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jan 22, 2019
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

The Downselect Application should include:

  • Proposal Title;
  • Contact information of the PI and coPIs;
  • Indication whether your proposal is for Track 1 or Track 2;
  • Name of the academic administrator to serve as an advocate for the instrument (your associate dean of research or institute director);
  • The instrumentation required and why it should be viewed as a priority for Penn State (Include a description of shared-use within and across Penn State, including other campuses and institutions; diversity of team and users; research training and educational uses; broader impact; and potential Industry/iCorps/IUCRCs connections);
  • How your proposal meets the NSF-MRI program goals; (e.g. How would the instrumentation enable academic departments, disciplinary & cross-disciplinary units, and multi-organization collaborations to integrate research with research training?)
  • The outcomes you anticipate if your proposal is successful;
  • Where do you anticipate the instrumentation will be located;
  • Any peer review comments received on this application from any prior submission;
  • The estimated total cost of the project;
  • Provide the estimated cost of additional expenses not covered through the grant (for example, renovations related to installation, staffing, maintenance)

Formatting Guidelines and Page Limit:

  • Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
  • Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)

Review and Notification:

A representative committee of research deans, unit directors and their delegates will review all applications and recommend to The Office Vice President for Research the strongest proposals for development. The finalists for this competition will be notified of their selection by end of September 2018.


SPONSOR DEADLINE WINDOW: January 1 - 22, 2019

If you have any questions, please contact limitedsubs@psu.edu.

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
Penn State OVPR NOI Deadline: 
Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - 4:00pm
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Monday, August 27, 2018 - 4:00pm
Track 1: Katherine Freeman (EMS, Geosciences) and Seong Kim (Engineering, Chemical Eng.) Track 2: Paul Bartell (Ag. Sciences, Avian Biology) 9/26/18