NSF 18-513 - Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) 2021/2022

Sponsor Name: 
Description of the Award: 

The Office of the Senior Vice President for Research held an informational webinar for interested applicants on Wednesday, June 30 at 1:00 PM. Register here.

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).

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 2019/2020 Timeline

June 30: Webinar for interested applicants (Register Here)

July 14: Internal Notice of Intent (NOI) Due (REQUIRED)

August 10: Internal Downselect Application Due

August 10-September 1: Internal Downselect Review

Week of September 6: Applicant Response to Review Feedback

Late September: Inform the applicants of selection

January 8, 2021: Final Proposal due to SIRO

January 1 - 19, 2021: 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 campus 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.

Institutional Limit on Proposals: The maximum is three proposals based on the dollar value of the amount requested from NSF; For each Campus, no more than two submissions are permitted in Track 1 (Track 1 proposals are those requesting from NSF $100,000 to less than $1 million) and no more than one submission is permitted in Track 2 (Track 2 proposals are those requesting from NSF $1 million up to and including $4 million)

Subaward limit: Inclusion as a funded subawardee on a development proposal at a level in excess of 20% of the total budget requested from NSF, or as a funded subawardee, when allowed, on any acquisition proposal, will be counted against an organization's proposal submission limit.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jan 19, 2022
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

If a faculty team in your college/unit plans to participate in the internal downselect, the Principal Investigator will need to submit their Notice-of-Intent (NOI) at this InfoReady competition page to help us plan the downselect.

Applicants should upload the following document:

  • Information Page to include:

    • Project Title
    • Track 1 or Track 2
    • Acquisition or Development
    • Full Contact information for PI & Co-PIs
    • A brief description of the instrumentation and general plans for shared use (< 500 words)
    • The anticipated location of the instrument (campus, building, and room)
    • Estimated budget
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: 
Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - 4:00pm