Major Research Instrumentation Program

Grant Name
Major Research Instrumentation Program
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Country or Region
United States
Research Field
Science and Technology and other Research and Development
Nov 15, 2023 12:00:00 AM EST (Expired)
Grant Size
Contact Info
National Science Foundation

Eligible Applicants:

Others (see text field entitled "Additional Information on Eligibility" for clarification)

Additional Information on Eligibility:

*Who May Submit Proposals: Proposals may only be submitted by the following: -
Organizations thatmay apply for the MRI program:
Submission Eligibility
Proposals may only be submitted by organizations located in the United States, its territories or possessions, as follows. (Campuses or organizations that plan to submit a proposal through the sponsored projects office (SPO) of other campuses or organizations should contact NSF to discuss eligibility as early as possible and at least six weeks before submitting such a proposal.)

  1. Institutions of higher education (Ph.D.-granting and non-Ph.D.-granting), acting on behalf of their faculty members, that are accredited in and have their main campus in the United States, its territories or possessions. Distinct academic campuses (e.g., that award their own degrees, have independent administrative structures, admissions policies, alumni associations, etc.) within multi-campus systems qualify as separate submission-eligible institutions.

  2. Not-for-profit, non-degree-granting domestic U.S. organizations, acting on behalf of their employees, for example (but not limited to) independent museums and science centers, observatories, research laboratories and similar organizations that are directly associated with the Nation's research activities. These organizations must have an independent, permanent administrative organization (e.g., a sponsored projects office) located in the United States, its territories or possessions, and have 501(c)(3) tax status.

  3. To facilitate access to unique instrumentation for a broad user base of U.S. scientists and engineers, and to encourage collaboration and sharing of state-of-the-art instrumentation, the MRI program accepts proposals from consortia of organizations. Consortium proposals may be submitted as follows:

3a. Legally incorporated, not-for-profit consortia that include two or more submission-eligible organizations as described in items (1) and (2) above may submit proposals on behalf of the consortium. The cover sheet must clearly indicate the consortium nature of the proposal in the title. Such a consortium is one with an independent administrative structure (e.g., a sponsored projects office) located in the United States, its territories or possessions and have 501(c)(3) status.

3b. Submission-eligible organizations as described in items (1) and (2) above may submit, as part of their limit, proposals on behalf of consortia. The cover sheet of such a proposal must a) clearly indicate the consortium nature of the proposal in the title, and b) it must identify both a PI and co-PI(s) from at least two MRI submission-eligible organizations (items 1 and/or 2 above) as lead investigators in the consortium. These consortium proposals may also include as partners other U.S. organizations that are not eligible to submit MRI proposals.
For-profit commercial organizations, especially U.S. small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education, are eligible for instrument development support through subawards/subcontracts as private sector partners with submitting organizations; they may not submit proposals. Such partnerships must be substantive and meaningful, and build capacity for instrument development within MRI submission-eligible organization(s). Title to the resulting instrument should be retained by the MRI-eligible performing organization(s).
Prospective PIs may contact the cognizant MRI program officer regarding organizational eligibility, and for information on other NSF funding opportunities for instrumentation; see also Section IX for a list of related NSF programs for research instrumentation.
Organization Categories
All MRI-eligible organizations belong to one of the following three categories:

  1. Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education are accredited colleges and

Grant Number
The Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program (MRI Program Website) 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 of a multi-user research instrument that is commercially available through direct purchase from a vendor, or for the personnel costs and equipment that are required for the development of an instrument with new capabilities, thereby advancing instrumentation capabilities and enhancing expertise for instrument design and fabrication at academic institutions. MRI instruments are, 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 obtain next-generation research instruments by developing instruments with new capabilities 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 from NSF up to $4 million for either acquisition or development of a research instrument. Each performing organization may submit in revised "Tracks" as defined below, with no more than two (2) submissions in Track 1 and no more than one (1) submission in Track 2. For the newly defined Track 3, no more than one (1) submission per competition is permitted. As a result, it is now possible for an institution to submit up to four MRI proposals within the Track limits as described above.

  • Track 1: Track 1 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than $100,000[1] and less than $1,400,000.

  • Track 2: Track 2 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $1,400,000 up to and including $4,000,000.

  • Track 3: Track 3 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $100,000[1] and less than or equal to $4,000,000 that include the purchase, installation, operation, and maintenance of equipment and instrumentation to conserve or reduce the consumption of helium. Institutions may submit no more than one Track 3 proposal. Submission of a Track 3 proposal does not impact limits that apply for Track 1 and Track 2 proposals.

Cost sharing requirements for new awards in the MRI Program are waived for a period of 5 years beginning with the FY 2023 MRI competition. Institutional submission limits for Track 1, Track 2 and Track 3 proposals remain.
The MRI Program especially seeks broad representation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines. Proposals from women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities and early-career PIs are encouraged, as are proposals that benefit early-career researchers and proposals with PIs from geographically underserved regions, including EPSCoR jurisdictions. Additionally, proposals are encouraged from under-resourced institutions, including from emerging research institutions, where MRI can significantly build capacity for research.
[1]Track 1 proposals requesting funds from NSF less than $100,000 will be accepted only from: a) eligible performing organizations requesting instrumentation supporting research in the disciplines of mathematics or social, behavioral and economic sciences; or b) non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education requesting instrumentation supporting research in any NSF-supported disciplines.

Funding resources

Purdue Grant Writing Lab: Introduction to Grant Writing Open Link
University of Wisconsin Writing Center: Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal Open Link

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