(CLOSED) - 2017/18 NSF - Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Downselect competition

Description of the Award: 


2017/18 NSF - Major Research Instrumentation Program:

Solicitation: NSF 15-504

Limit: 3 proposals. Up to 2 of the 3 proposals may be for instrument acquisition. The balance must be for instrument development.

Eligibility: The OVPR has contacted NSF about the eligibility of Commonwealth Campuses to submit as separate MRI submission-eligible organizations, and are awaiting the release of the 2017/18 solicitation for a final determination. Regardless of that determination, submission eligibility of proposals from all campuses will be managed through this limited submission call.

Amount: In the range $100,000-$4 million

Penn State Internal deadlines:

August 25 (4 PM): Notice of Intent (NOI) Due (REQUIRED)

September 7 (4 PM): Internal Downselect Application Due

January 8, 2018: Final Proposal due to SIRO

January 10, 2018: Sponsor Deadline

Synopsis of Program:

The Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) serves to increase access to shared scientific and engineering instruments for research and research training in our Nation's institutions of higher education, not-for-profit museums, science centers and scientific/engineering research organizations. The program provides organizations with opportunities to acquire major instrumentation that supports the research and research training goals of the organization and that may be used by other researchers regionally or nationally.

Each MRI proposal may request support for the acquisition (Track 1) or development (Track 2) of a single research instrument for shared inter- and/or intra-organizational use. Development efforts that leverage the strengths of private sector partners to build instrument development capacity at MRI submission-eligible organizations are encouraged.

The MRI program assists with the acquisition or development of a shared research instrument that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs. The program does not fund research projects or provide ongoing support for operating or maintaining facilities or centers.

The instrument acquired or developed is expected to be operational for regular research use by the end of the award period. For the purposes of the MRI program, a proposal must be for either acquisition (Track 1) or development (Track 2) of a single, well-integrated instrument. The MRI program does not support the acquisition or development of a suite of instruments to outfit research laboratories or facilities, or that can be used to conduct independent research activities simultaneously.

Instrument acquisition or development proposals that request funds from NSF in the range $100,000-$4 million may be accepted from any MRI-eligible organization. Proposals that request funds from NSF less than $100,000 may also be accepted from any MRI-eligible organization for the disciplines of mathematics or social, behavioral and economic sciences and from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education for all NSF-supported disciplines.

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.

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 – August 24

404 Old Main from 3:30-5:00 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 25 (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
  • Whether your project is Instrument Acquisition or Instrument Development
  • Full Contact information for PI & Co-PIs
  • A brief description of the instrumentation
  • The anticipated location of the instrument (campus, building, and room)
  • Name of the academic administrator to serve as an advocate for the instrument (your associate dean of research or institute director)

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

STEP THREE: Internal Downselect Applications from ALL campuses Due September 7 (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 by August 29, 2017 at 5 PM.

The Downselect Application should include:

  • Proposal Title;
  • Contact information of the PI and coPIs;
  • Indication whether your proposal is for Instrument Acquisition or Instrument Development;
  • 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).

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 2017.


SPONSOR DEADLINE: January 10, 2018

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

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jan 10, 2018
To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
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: 
Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 4:00pm