Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program:
Instrument Acquisition or Development

Program Solicitation
NSF 18-513

Replaces Document(s):
NSF 15-504

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Office of Integrative Activities

Directorate for Biological Sciences

Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering

Directorate for Education & Human Resources

Directorate for Engineering

Directorate for Geosciences

Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences

Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences

Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     January 29, 2018 - February 05, 2018

     January 01, 2019 - January 22, 2019

     January 1 - January 19, Annually Thereafter

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

The number of MRI proposal submissions allowed per institution continues to be a maximum of three, but is now based on the dollar value of the amount requested from NSF; no more than two submissions are permitted in a newly-defined Track 1 (Track 1 proposals are those requesting from NSF $100,0001 to less than $1 million) and no more than one submission is permitted in a newly defined Track 2 (Track 2 proposals are those requesting from NSF $1 million up to and including $4 million). 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.

Emphasis has been provided to indicate that the MRI Program seeks broad representation by PIs in its award portfolio, including women, underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities. Since 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.

MRI proposal submission will only be accepted within the specified submission window. It is NSF's policy that the end date of a submission window converts to, and is subject to, the same policies as a deadline date.

Information regarding collaborators and other affiliations must be separately provided as a Single Copy Document for each individual identified as Senior Personnel, consistent with the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

Statements have been added to emphasize that an MRI research instrument need not be physically located in a conventional laboratory setting, nor does an instrument need to be physical at all. MRI continues to support distributed/networked instruments and cyberinstrumentation that is not appropriate for support through other NSF programs.


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.

Any proposal submitted in response to this solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 18-1), which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 29, 2018. Please be advised that proposers who opt to submit prior to January 29, 2018, must also follow the guidelines contained in NSF 18-1.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program:
Instrument Acquisition or Development

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.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

  • 47.041 --- Engineering
  • 47.049 --- Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • 47.050 --- Geosciences
  • 47.070 --- Computer and Information Science and Engineering
  • 47.074 --- Biological Sciences
  • 47.075 --- Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences
  • 47.076 --- Education and Human Resources
  • 47.079 --- Office of International Science and Engineering
  • 47.083 --- Office of Integrative Activities (OIA)

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 150

Up to 150 awards are anticipated depending on the available budget and the number and quality of submissions.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $75,000,000

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be competing for up to $75 million, pending availability of funds and numbers/quality of proposals, with approximately 1/3 of the available MRI funding expected to support Track 2 awards. NSF strongly encourages MRI proposals that seek to develop next-generation research instruments that open new frontiers of research; therefore up to 1/3 of the MRI awards are expected to support instrument development in either track; therefore within their submission limit organizations are encouraged to submit proposals for innovative development projects.

Eligibility Information

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Organizations that may 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 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 universities that have awarded more than 20 Ph.D. or D.Sc. degrees in NSF-supported fields2 during the combined previous two academic years. Additionally, any organization that awards Ph.D. or D.Sc. degrees in NSF-supported fields is considered to be a Ph.D.-granting institution if the only degrees it awards in NSF-supported fields are post-Bachelor's degrees.
    2. Non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education are accredited colleges and universities (including two-year community colleges) that award Associate's degrees, Bachelor's degrees, and/or Master's degrees in NSF-supported fields, and have awarded 20 or fewer Ph.D./D.Sc. degrees in all NSF-supported fields during the combined previous two academic years.
    3. Non-degree-granting organizations are those that do not award Associate's degrees, Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees, and/or Ph.Ds. or D.Sc. For the purposes of the MRI program, non-degree-granting organizations also include institutions of higher education that award all of their degrees outside of NSF-supported fields.

2 Please review NSF's Guide to Programs for NSF-supported fields of science, mathematics and engineering at https://www.nsf.gov/funding/browse_all_funding.jsp.

Who May Serve as PI:

There are no restrictions or limits.

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.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

Three (3) as described below. Potential PIs are advised to contact their institutional office of research regarding processes used to select proposals for submission.

The MRI program requires that an MRI-eligible organization may, as a performing organization, submit or be included as a significantly funded3 subawardee in no more than three MRI proposals. Beginning with this competition, each performing organization is now limited to a maximum of three proposals in revised "Tracks" as defined below, with no more than two submissions in Track 1 and no more than one submission in Track 2. Any MRI proposal may request support for either the acquisition or development of a research instrument. Within their submission limit, NSF strongly encourages organizations to submit proposals for innovative development projects.

Any MRI proposal may request support for either the acquisition or development of a research instrument.

  • 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.

Note: The 30% cost-sharing requirement applies to only the portion of the total project cost budgeted to non-exempt organizations, including those participating through subawards. When required, cost-sharing must be precisely 30%. Cost sharing 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 cost-sharing and cannot provide it. National Science Board policy is that voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited. See section V.B. for specific information on cost-sharing calculations and the solicitation text for definitions of organizational types used for the MRI program.


3 An unfunded collaboration does not count against the submission 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. Separately submitted linked collaborative proposals count against the submission limit of each of the submitting organizations. However, if a subaward to an organization in a development proposal is 20% or less of the proposal's total budget request from NSF, the subawardee's submission limit will not be affected. For subawards within a linked collaborative proposal, the 20% threshold applies to the budget request from NSF in the proposal containing the subaward(s), not to the combined budget request from NSF for the collaborative project.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Not required
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not required
  • Full Proposals:

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements:

    Cost Sharing is required. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

    Not Applicable

  • Other Budgetary Limitations:

    Other budgetary limitations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

C. Due Dates

  • Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

         January 29, 2018 - February 05, 2018

         January 01, 2019 - January 22, 2019

         January 1 - January 19, Annually Thereafter

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria:

National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions:

Standard NSF award conditions apply.

Reporting Requirements:

Additional reporting requirements apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Description

  3. Award Information

  4. Eligibility Information

  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

  6. NSF Proposal Processing and Review Procedures
    1. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process

  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements

  8. Agency Contacts

  9. Other Information

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Program Goals

The goal of the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program is to increase access to shared-use/multi-user instrumentation for scientific and engineering research and research training. MRI is intended to be a capacity-building program that builds research capabilities across diverse institution types (institutions of higher education and not-for-profit scientific/engineering research organizations). MRI advances the National interest by providing U.S. organizations with instrumentation that opens new opportunities to advance the frontiers in science and engineering research and research training.

The MRI Program provides for state-of-the-art instruments through acquisition from vendors and development of next-generation research instruments that advance the state-of-the-art in science and engineering research. For development proposals the Program seeks to leverage the strengths of private sector partners to build instrument development capacity at MRI submission-eligible organizations.

MRI supports instrumentation across NSF's Directorates and Divisions. The Program focuses on multi-user/shared instrumentation that often supports research needs across disciplinary boundaries. The MRI Program is intended to provide flexibility to the research community to select the most appropriate NSF Division(s) to advance their shared-use instrumentation needs.

B. Background Information

The America COMPETES Act (ACA) of 2007 (Public Law 110-69) establishes the maximum award limit for MRI proposals commensurate with the appropriated budget for the Program. For the current MRI competition, the maximum amount of an award under the Program is $4 million. Proposals that request funds from NSF in the range $100,000-$4 million will be accepted from all eligible organizations. Proposals that request funds from NSF less than $100,000 will be accepted only from all eligible organizations 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.

Consistent with the ACA, cost sharing at the level of (precisely) 30% of the total project cost is required for Ph.D.-granting institutions and non-degree-granting organizations. Only non-Ph.D.-granting academic institutions of higher education are exempt from the cost-sharing requirement and cost sharing by those institutions may not be provided. Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited by National Science Board policy.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

A. General Information

MRI Program Scope

An MRI proposal may request support for the acquisition or development of a research instrument or components that when combined serve as an integrated research instrument. An MRI-supported instrument is intended to serve multiple users both in research and in the training of the next generation of instrument users and/or developers. 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.

MRI-supported instrumentation is, in general, too costly or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs. An instrument acquired or developed with support from the MRI Program is expected to be operational by the end of the award period to enable the research/research training activities committed to in the proposal.

The MRI Program does not typically fund common, general-purpose ancillary equipment that would normally be found in a laboratory and/or is relatively easily procured by the organization. The Program does not support research, education or outreach activities that are enabled by the requested instrumentation, nor does MRI support requests for multiple independent instruments that serve to outfit a general-purpose laboratory or research environment. MRI also does not support instrumentation used primarily for science and engineering education courses and outreach, or enables research that is primarily outside of NSF-supported fields of science and engineering; however the instrument's use in those activities may occur at a secondary level and serve as broader impacts.

The MRI Program welcomes substantive and meaningful partnerships for instrument development, including partnerships between the academic and private sectors. MRI proposals involving partnerships with applicability to other NSF investments are also encouraged. Such proposals are expected to create innovative advances with wide scientific or commercial impact. Investigations of commercial impact should not be included in MRI proposals but support for such investigations may be sought through, for example, the NSF's Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Team program (https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504672); as MRI development projects mature, applications to this program are strongly encouraged.

An MRI research instrument need not be physically located in a conventional laboratory setting, nor does an instrument need to be "physical" at all. MRI continues to support distributed/networked instruments and cyberinstrumentation that is not appropriate for support through other NSF programs.

a. Instrument Acquisition

The science and engineering research enterprise relies on the availability of modern instrumentation, much of which can be acquired with little or no modification from existing sources, An MRI acquisition proposal is characterized by a purchase or upgrade of a generally available, yet sophisticated, instrument with little or no modification and risk. MRI does not support the lease/rental of a research instrument, but the purchase of a currently leased instrument at fair market value may be considered.

b. Instrument Development

Advancing the frontiers of science and engineering research also requires new generations of sophisticated research instrumentation with required capabilities that may not yet exist. NSF encourages individual investigators and teams of researchers to apply for instrument development support. A development proposal should demonstrate the need for a new or extensively upgraded instrument with new performance, enabling enhanced or potentially transformative research opportunities, open up new areas of research and research training and/or have potential as a commercial product. "Performance" may include, for example, accuracy, reliability, resolving power, throughput speed, sample capacity, flexibility of operation, breadth of application, user-friendliness, and/or new types of measurement or information gathering. MRI development efforts typically require longer timescales for completion than acquisition efforts, and involve design, construction, testing and commissioning such that the equipment cost may not represent the largest portion of the budget. A development proposal also tends to involve greater risk to complete, requiring a risk mitigation plan.

The MRI program does not consider the acquisition of components simply combined in a new system, the mere purchase of an upgrade, early-phase enabling technology development, or the development of devices, products or techniques/protocols to constitute instrument development. The purchase of a computer(s) and the subsequent porting of application-specific software also does not constitute instrument development. A development project should lead to a stable multi-user instrument at the end of the award period that will serve multiple researchers for an extended period of time.

A development proposal with a commercial partner(s) must be substantive, meaningful and build capacity for instrument development within MRI submission-eligible organizations; a proposal that "outsources" the development to the commercial partner will be considered to be an acquisition proposal by the MRI program. A development proposal must describe the improved performance of the new instrument over existing options and the expected impact of this new instrument on the broader research community.

Additionally:

  • MREFC-related Proposals: The MRI program will not accept proposals for an instrument that augments an NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) project unless the project is receiving operations funding outside of the MREFC account. A list of such facilities can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/lfo/.
  • FFRDC-related Proposals: Proposals for the acquisition or development of an instrument involving another Federal agency or one of their Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs)4 must be submitted as a consortium proposal by an MRI submission-eligible organization as described in item 3(b) under "Eligibility Information". In addition to at least two MRI submission-eligible organizations, the proposal must include the agency/FFRDC (or its managing organization) as a partner in the consortium, even if the role of the FFRDC in the project is solely to house the instrument. An instrument must make unique contributions to the needs of researchers within the consortium and/or establish access to new multi-user research capabilities. Preliminary inquiry to the cognizant MRI point of contact should be made before preparing a proposal for submission.

The MRI program will NOT support proposal requests that include the following:

  • Construction, renovation or modernization of rooms, buildings or research facilities. This category refers to the space where sponsored or unsponsored research activities (including research training) occur, whether "bricks-and-mortar", mobile, or virtual;
  • Large, specialized experimental facilities that are constructed with significant amounts of common building material using standard building techniques. In general instruments can be decoupled from the structure or environment that contains them;
  • General purpose and supporting equipment; this category includes (but is not limited to) general purpose ancillary computers or laboratory instruments. Supporting equipment refers to basic, durable components of a research facility that are integral to its operation (e.g., fume hoods, elevators, laboratory casework, cryogen storage systems, general-purpose computational or data storage systems). It also includes supporting facilities such as vehicle charging stations.
  • Sustaining infrastructure and/or building systems. This category includes (but is not limited to) the installation of or upgrades to infrastructure related to the supply of power, ventilation, water or research gases, routine multi-purpose computer networks, standard safety features, and other general purpose systems (e.g., toxic waste removal systems and telecommunications equipment.)
  • General-purpose platforms or environment. This category may include (but is not limited to) general purpose fixed or non-fixed structures as well as manned or unmanned vehicles, the purpose of which is to host, support or transport an instrument, which is not an integral part of the research instrument and/or which can be re-purposed for non-scientific uses.
  • Instrumentation used primarily for science and engineering education courses.

Proposals seeking support for the above items or activities are subject to return without review (if noncompliance is established prior to review) or decline (if noncompliance is established as a result of the merit review).

B. Eligible Fields of Science and Engineering

Proposals for a major research instrument should describe the types of research for which they will be used. These should be in fields of science, engineering, mathematics or education research that are typically supported by NSF programs2. However, as long as they are in such NSF-supported fields, the specific research projects for which the instrumentation will be used need not be funded by NSF or other agencies of the Federal government.

The MRI Program does not provide support for instrumentation to be used in medical education (such as medical school courses). Instrumentation intended for research with disease-related goals, including work on the etiology, diagnosis or treatment of physical or mental disease, abnormality, or malfunction in human beings or animals, is normally not supported. Instrumentation for research on animal models of such conditions or the development or testing of drugs or other procedures for their treatment also is not eligible for support. However, instrumentation for bioengineering research, with diagnosis- or treatment-related goals that applies engineering principles to problems in biology and medicine, while also advancing engineering knowledge, is eligible for support. Instrumentation for research in bioinformatics and biocomputing, or for bioengineering research to aid persons with disabilities, is also eligible.

C. Operations and Maintenance

Many major research instruments have long lifetimes and can be expensive to operate and maintain over that lifetime. Proposals should only be submitted by institutions that are willing to undertake the responsibility of maintaining and operating the instrument for the benefit of a community of users engaged in research and research training. Defraying the costs of operations and maintenance through user fees is permissible, but not required, and does not constitute cost sharing.


4 The current list of FFRDCs can be found at: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/.

III. AWARD INFORMATION

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be competing for about $75 million, pending availability of funds and numbers/quality of proposals.

Requests for funds from NSF in the range $100,000-$4 million will be accepted from all eligible organizations. Track 1 requests from NSF less than $100,000 will be accepted only: a) from any eligible performing organization for the disciplines of mathematics or social, behavioral and economic sciences; and b) from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education for all NSF-supported disciplines.

Proposers may request an award period up to three years for acquisition proposals and up to five years for development proposals. The anticipated earliest starting date is August 01 in the year of the proposal's submission.

IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Organizations that may 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 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 universities that have awarded more than 20 Ph.D. or D.Sc. degrees in NSF-supported fields5 during the combined previous two academic years. Additionally, any organization that awards Ph.D. or D.Sc. degrees in NSF-supported fields is considered to be a Ph.D.-granting institution if the only degrees it awards in NSF-supported fields are post-Bachelor's degrees.
    2. Non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education are accredited colleges and universities (including two-year community colleges) that award Associate's degrees, Bachelor's degrees, and/or Master's degrees in NSF-supported fields, and have awarded 20 or fewer Ph.D./D.Sc. degrees in all NSF-supported fields during the combined previous two academic years.
    3. Non-degree-granting organizations are those that do not award Associate's degrees, Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees, and/or Ph.Ds. or D.Sc. For the purposes of the MRI program, non-degree-granting organizations also include institutions of higher education that award all of their degrees outside of NSF-supported fields.

5 Please review NSF's Guide to Programs for NSF-supported fields of science, mathematics and engineering at https://www.nsf.gov/funding/browse_all_funding.jsp.

Who May Serve as PI:

There are no restrictions or limits.

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.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

Three (3) as described below. Potential PIs are advised to contact their institutional office of research regarding processes used to select proposals for submission.

The MRI program requires that an MRI-eligible organization may, as a performing organization, submit or be included as a significantly funded6 subawardee in no more than three MRI proposals. Beginning with this competition, each performing organization is now limited to a maximum of three proposals in revised "Tracks" as defined below, with no more than two submissions in Track 1 and no more than one submission in Track 2. Any MRI proposal may request support for either the acquisition or development of a research instrument. Within their submission limit, NSF strongly encourages organizations to submit proposals for innovative development projects.

Any MRI proposal may request support for either the acquisition or development of a research instrument.

  • 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.

Note: The 30% cost-sharing requirement applies to only the portion of the total project cost budgeted to non-exempt organizations, including those participating through subawards. When required, cost-sharing must be precisely 30%. Cost sharing 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 cost-sharing and cannot provide it. National Science Board policy is that voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited. See section V.B. for specific information on cost-sharing calculations and the solicitation text for definitions of organizational types used for the MRI program.


6 An unfunded collaboration does not count against the submission 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. Separately submitted linked collaborative proposals count against the submission limit of each of the submitting organizations. However, if a subaward to an organization in a development proposal is 20% or less of the proposal's total budget request from NSF, the subawardee's submission limit will not be affected. For subawards within a linked collaborative proposal, the 20% threshold applies to the budget request from NSF in the proposal containing the subaward(s), not to the combined budget request from NSF for the collaborative project.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI:

There are no restrictions or limits.

V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via Grants.gov or via the NSF FastLane system.

  • Full proposals submitted via FastLane: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). The complete text of the PAPPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg. Paper copies of the PAPPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov. Proposers are reminded to identify this program solicitation number in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.

  • Full proposals submitted via Grants.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation via Grants.gov should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov. The complete text of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: (https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide). To obtain copies of the Application Guide and Application Forms Package, click on the Apply tab on the Grants.gov site, then click on the Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package and Application Instructions link and enter the funding opportunity number, (the program solicitation number without the NSF prefix) and press the Download Package button. Paper copies of the Grants.gov Application Guide also may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:

Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system. PAPPG Chapter II.D.3 provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

See PAPPG Chapter II.C.2 for guidance on the required sections of a full research proposal submitted to NSF. Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the PAPPG instructions.

___1. Cover Sheet.

FastLane Users: Select this MRI program solicitation number from the pull down list. Where asked to identify the NSF Unit of Consideration, select the most appropriate Division within an NSF Directorate or the most appropriate Office to consider your proposal. "Major Research Instrumentation" will be automatically selected as the program for your proposal. Selection of more than one unit for consideration may facilitate review of multi-/cross-/inter-/trans-disciplinary efforts when two or more research areas are significantly involved (PIs are especially encouraged to submit a list of suggested reviewers, as a Single-Copy Document, for these types of proposals - see the PAPPG for additional information).

Grants.gov Users: The program solicitation number will be pre-populated by Grants.gov on the NSF Grant Application Cover Page. Select "Major Research Instrumentation" as the program for your proposal. Please note that simultaneously submitted collaborative applications must be submitted via FastLane as Grants.gov does not currently support this functionality.

The project title must be concise and convey the primary purpose of the proposal, e.g., "MRI: Acquisition of ____," or "MRI: Development of ____." Consortium project titles must also be identified in the title: "MRI Consortium: Acquisition of ___," or "MRI Consortium: Development of ___."

NSF proposals identify only a single PI and up to four co-PIs with those titles. For the purposes of the MRI program, other major participants may be indicated as "senior personnel." Please see the NSF PAPPG for definitions of Senior Personnel.

Note: NSF reserves the right to assign proposals to programs that are deemed to be the most appropriate for review. PI selection of a Division(s) for review is advisory to NSF.

___2. Project Summary (maximum length, 1 page).

Each proposal must contain a summary of the proposed project not more than one page in length. The Project Summary consists of an overview, a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity.

___3. Project Description (maximum length, 15 pages, including all figures and charts). The project description must include subsections (a)-(e), and address the intellectual merits and broader impacts of the proposed effort per NSF PAPPG guidelines. Please note that a separate section labeled "Intellectual Merit", as specified in the PAPPG, is not required for proposals submitted to this solicitation. Suggested lengths for individual subsections are provided for guidance only.

a. Information about the Proposal.

a1. Instrument Location and Type (included at the top of and as part of the overall Project Description page limit).

  • Indicate in a single separate line the physical location of the proposed instrument as follows, "Instrument Location: _______________". Note: Instruments to be deployed in the field may require additional information to assess compliance with any applicable laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Endangered Species Act.
  • Additionally, to assist the MRI program in tracking and reporting on the most common, broad types of instruments the program funds, on a single separate line please provide a concise description of the instrument being acquired/developed.

a2. ONLY REQUIRED FOR DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS: Justification for submission as a Development proposal (suggested length: up to 1 page). Section II.A ("MRI Program Scope") describes characteristics of acquisition and development proposals. In this subsection of the Project Description, when appropriate, you must justify the characteristics that qualify your proposal as a development proposal. Explicitly address as appropriate the questions below.

  • How will the end result of the effort be a stable shared-use research instrument, rather than technology development, a device, a product or a technique/protocol?
  • What significant new capabilities, not available in an instrument provided by a vendor, will the new instrument provide?
  • Does the instrument development effort build capacity for instrument development activities within an MRI submission-eligible organization(s)?
  • In what way does the instrument development require design and development work that must be undertaken or has been undertaken in-house, rather than through readily available/published designs found in the literature?
  • To what extent does the instrument development require/benefit from a team of scientists/engineers/technicians that bring a variety of skills to the project?
  • For what activities does the instrument development require a significant number of person-hours, more so than simple "assembly" of purchased parts?
  • To what extent does the instrument development require time-frames for completion that are longer than are required for plug-and-play or assembled instruments?
  • Does the instrument development require the use of a machine shop or a testbed to fabricate/test unique components?
  • Does the instrument development effort involve risks in achieving the required specifications, and what is the risk mitigation plan?

Although all of the above may not be required to qualify for a development proposal, the more of these characteristics that apply, the more solidly the effort fits as a development effort (even if there is substantial acquisition of component parts). Reviewers and NSF staff will use this section to evaluate the merits of your proposal in meeting the goals for an MRI instrument development project.

b. Research Activities to be Enabled. The degree to which the planned uses of the proposed instrumentation constitute exciting, ground-breaking and/or transformative research is a significant factor in the merit review evaluation of MRI proposals. In this section describe the specific research program(s) and research training activities that will be enabled and that drive the request for the desired instrumentation. Also describe current and potential funding sources that may support these activities and/or how the instrument will better enable future funding support. (Note: Researchers using MRI instrumentation need not be supported by NSF or the Federal government, but reviewers should understand how users of the instrument will support and disseminate their research.) In narrative and/or tabular form describe the personnel by research area, number, and type (e.g., senior personnel, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduate students) anticipated to use benefit from the instrument. An in-depth discussion should include only those who will most actively use the instrumentation for research and research training on a regular basis. Other more minor users of the instrument, when applicable, should be described in a more condensed (e.g., table) format. Development proposals should identify researchers who intend to use the instrument once it has been developed and the research uses to which they will put it.

This section must also include "Results from Prior NSF Support" (see required information in the PAPPG) if the PI or any of the co-PIs have participated as PIs or co-PIs in NSF awards with a start date within the past five-year period. Preference should be given to MRI awards. When discussing MRI awards, this section should also include information on the operations and maintenance, downtime and usage history on the previously funded instrument. If the PI or co-PIs have not participated as PIs or co-PIs in NSF MRI awards with a start dates within the past five-year period, but have received other NSF funding during that period, information on the most relevant funded award(s) is required. In this case, preference should be given to any other non-MRI instrumentation awards if applicable. Otherwise follow the standard "Results from Prior NSF Support" guidance in the PAPPG.

c. Description of the Research Instrument and Needs (Suggested length: up to 2 pages for instrument acquisition; up to 5 pages for instrument development).

An acquisition proposal should include a technical description of the requested instrumentation and clearly explain how the planned research drives the instrumentation request. If applicable, the existence and availability of comparable instrumentation (e.g., at organizations in close geographical proximity, or otherwise accessible through collaborations or cyberinfrastructure) should be discussed and justification for the requested instrument should be made clear.

A proposal to develop an instrument must clearly explain how the planned research drives the needed instrument capabilities and make clear that those capabilities are not available through an instrument purchase. The proposal must succinctly present the design concept, the development strategy and project execution in sufficient detail to allow for the evaluation of the project's feasibility. Reviewers must be able to evaluate the expected capabilities of the instrument upon completion, and its likely availability for shared use at the end of the award period. If applicable, provide background results from existing equipment or appropriate calculations and/or models to indicate the expected added utility or enhanced performance to be achieved by the new instrument.

A proposal integrating components that when combined serve as a single research instrument must justify the request in the context of the MRI goal of providing support for individual research instruments. The MRI Program does not typically fund common, general-purpose ancillary equipment that would normally be found in a laboratory and/or is relatively easily procured by the organization, nor does MRI support requests for multiple instruments that serve to outfit a general-purpose laboratory or research environment.

Proposals involving large formalized collaborations (e.g., through a memorandum of understanding or other legal document) should include a one-page supplemental document from the collaboration describing the role, importance and priority of the requested instrument in the overall efforts being undertaken by the collaboration (see Section 9.b).

d. Broader Impacts (Including Impact on Research and Training Infrastructure). This section should provide a discussion of the broader impacts as a result of the acquisition or development of the instrument, including a description of how the instrument will serve to attract researchers and make a substantial improvement in the institution's capabilities to conduct leading-edge research. If appropriate, describe how the instrument will improve the quality of research training. Any proposal requesting direct student support in maintenance or development efforts must justify that involvement in terms of both project needs and the training of the next generation of instrumentalists (reviewers will be asked to evaluate the appropriateness of this type of involvement). Proposals should also address whether, and if so how well, the instrument will broaden the participation in science and engineering research by women, underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities.

Note: Proposals requesting over $1 million should address the potential impact of the instrument on the research community of interest at the regional or national level. For large multi-user instruments that enable usage beyond a single institution, concrete plans for enabling access by external users (including those from non-Ph.D. and/or minority-serving institutions) through physical or virtual access should be presented, and the uniqueness of the requested instrument should also be described.

e. Management Plan (suggested length: up to 2 pages for instrument acquisition; up to 5 pages for instrument development). Given the often-high costs and complexities of operating, maintaining and scheduling major research instrumentation, investigators must provide detailed business/management plans. These should include:

For both instrument acquisition and development proposals.

  • A description of the space or the facility in which the instrument will be placed.
  • A description of how and by whom the requested instrumentation will be operated and maintained over the expected lifetime of the instrument. Inclusion of a letter documenting the performing organization's commitment to ensuring successful operations and maintenance over the expected lifetime of the instrument is required as a supplemental document. If the expertise is not currently available, describe how it will be obtained.
  • A description of procedures for allocating the instrument time, if appropriate, and plans for attracting and supporting new users. Include information on anticipated usage and downtime.

Sufficient detail should be given to enable reviewers to evaluate whether the appropriate technical expertise and infrastructure to allow effective usage of the instrument will be available, and whether effective multi-user accessibility will be available.

For instrument development proposals only. Given the often-complex nature of instrument development efforts, investigators seeking development support must provide detailed information about project management of the design, construction and commissioning phases of the project, including discussion of the required personnel and anticipated costs in each phase of the project (including risk mitigation and knowledge transfer upon completion). Elements recommended for inclusion are:

  • A description of the design, construction and commissioning phases of the project, including a high-level work breakdown structure for project activities. Include a description of parts and materials, deliverables and estimated schedules and costs for each phase of the project as appropriate.
  • A description of the technical expertise that is needed, and that will be available, to execute each project activity. As appropriate, describe the organization of the project team. For each member, include a description of the responsibilities and explain why a given position is necessary for the completion of the design and construction of the new instrument.
  • An assessment of the risks associated with each activity and a description of potential methods for mitigating the risks, and of methods for re-analyzing and modifying the project plan to keep it within scope, schedule and budget.
  • Plans for making the instrument design readily available to other researchers, for example by means of publications, by transferring the technology to other U.S. academic, industrial, or government laboratories, and/or by commercializing the instrument.

Sufficient detail should be provided to allow reviewers to analyze the likely success, cost and benefit of the development effort.

Note: Proposals for the acquisition or development of an instrument to be located at an organization other than, or away from, the submitting organization must describe the rationale for performance of all or part of the project at the specified location(s) and provide, if appropriate, a (one-page maximum) supplementary document providing the host organization's commitment to house the instrument. For the purposes of this solicitation, use of instruments at NSF's Antarctic facilities is considered to be field deployment and a supplementary document from the host facility is not required.

___4. References Cited. The format must follow the standard PAPPG guidelines.

___5. Biographical Sketches. The proposal must include two-page biographical sketches of the PI and any Co-PI(s) (i.e., those personnel listed on the Cover Sheet), as well as any designated Senior Personnel. Other individuals who will be minor users or developers of the relevant research instrumentation may be described in the Project Description but should not include a biographical sketch. If appropriate, a separate Biographical Sketch of the individual most responsible for the management of the instrument should be included as a Supplementary Document if that person is not a PI, Co-PI or among the Senior Personnel. These are the only Biographical Sketches that are allowed. The format for biographical sketches must follow standard PAPPG guidelines.

___6. Budget and Budget Justification. Provide standard yearly and cumulative budget pages as described in the PAPPG, including cost sharing if required. For the purposes of MRI, the Total Project Cost (TPC) is defined as the sum of both the funds requested from NSF and any required cost sharing. On the standard NSF budget forms, the cumulative amount requested (Line L) represents the amount requested from NSF. Cost sharing when required should be shown separately on Line M of the budget form. If cost sharing is not required, Line M must show $0.

  • If an institution is not required (or allowed) to commit cost sharing, then the Total Project Cost will be equal to the funds requested from NSF (TPC = Line L).
  • If an institution is required to commit cost sharing, then the Total Project Cost will be equal to the funds requested from NSF plus the cost-sharing amount (TPC= Line L + Line M). If cost sharing is required, the cumulative amount requested from NSF must be exactly (to the nearest dollar) 70% of the Total Project Cost and the total cost sharing shown on the budget form must be exactly (to the nearest dollar) 30% of the Total Project Cost.

The total project cost should be clearly stated in the budget justification (which must not exceed five pages) and must be itemized in table form using the following template that, as appropriate, assigns funding to the request from NSF or (when necessary) the organization's cost-sharing. Use the appropriate number of entries and years. If cost sharing is not required, enter zeros in the cost-sharing columns. Proposals that do not include such a table in the budget justification are subject to return without review.

 

ITEM NAME

YEAR 1

YEAR 2

YEAR 3

YEAR 4

YEAR 5

TOTAL

   

NSF Request

Cost Sharing

NSF Request

Cost Sharing

NSF Request

Cost Sharing

NSF Request

Cost Sharing

NSF Request

Cost Sharing

NSF Request

Cost Sharing

1

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

2

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

3

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

4

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

5

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

6

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

7

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

8

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

9

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

10

 ...

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

 

TOTAL

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

 

The Total Project Cost (TPC) is the sum of the last two cells in the last two columns of the last row.

All budget items, whether associated with funds requested from NSF or with items contributed as cost sharing (including those for maintenance in acquisition proposals and personnel support in development proposals) must be well-justified and commensurate with the scale and complexity of the instrument and/or development effort.

The budget justification must explain the basis of the cost estimate. When cost sharing is required, specify the sources and amounts of the cost-sharing funds, their allowability under the MRI solicitation and a projection of when they will be available. Note that cost sharing, when required, is an eligibility requirement, must come from non-Federal sources, and must occur during the award period. Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

See Section V.B. for further budgetary information.

Budgets for Acquisition Proposals. For acquisition proposals, at least 70% of the Total Project Cost must consist of items that can be included on the Equipment line of the NSF budget form (Line D). Institutions that are subject to the cost-sharing requirement may only include entries on Line D and Line M of the NSF budget forms (i.e., funds requested from NSF can only be for items included on Line D) and should not include subawards. Institutions not subject to the cost sharing requirement must include at least 70% of the funds requested from NSF on Line D of the budget forms. Historically, the fraction of the Total Project Cost for MRI acquisition proposals devoted to equipment has been much higher than 70%, on average, and institutions are encouraged to continue to use acquisition awards for equipment and for the maintenance required to keep that equipment operational.

___7. Current and Pending Support. Provide a listing for only the PI and Co-PIs (i.e., those listed on the cover sheet), as well as designated senior personnel.

___8. Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources. Along with information as described in the PAPPG, provide a listing of similar and/or related instrumentation at or near the performing organization as "Other Resources."

___9. Special Information & Supplementary Documents. The first page of the Supplementary Documents section should contain a list of supplementary documents in the following order of appearance. Users of Grants.gov should note that, because of way Grants.gov works, reviewers of their proposals may not see the supplementary documents in the order listed. However, the inclusion of the list will help NSF staff and reviewers ensure that no items are overlooked.

Required:

  1. For all proposals: For each organization receiving funds, provide on institutional letterhead from each sponsored projects office, the following statement classifying the organization(s) as either non-Ph.D.-granting, Ph.D.-granting, or non-degree-granting (as defined in Section IV). Statements must follow only the format indicated below.

To: NSF MRI Coordinator

By signing below I certify that _________(organization)___________ is classified as _________(select one: non-Ph.D.-granting /Ph.D.-granting /non-degree-granting)_________ as defined in Section IV of the MRI solicitation.

Signed: _______________________ Print Name:_______________________________

Title of Signatory:___________________________________________________________

Date: _________________________

Each proposal must contain this statement(s). No other letter(s)/statement(s) classifying or describing the institution type(s) will be permitted.

  1. For all proposals: Include a letter documenting the performing institution's commitment to ensuring successful operations and maintenance over the expected lifetime of the instrument. This letter (two-page maximum) must also list the MRI awards made to the organization with a start date in the previous five calendar years and briefly describe the status of the instrumentation obtained from each award.
  2. When applicable: A letter (one-page maximum) documenting the organization's commitment for cost sharing, if applicable, must be included.
  3. When applicable: Proposals that include subawards (except for development proposals with subawards to institutions that do not exceed 20% of the total amount requested from NSF) must include a statement from each subawardee's sponsored projects office acknowledging that this proposal is included as part of the subawardee institution's submission limit. Otherwise, an organization may exceed its submission limit, with the result that the proposal including the subaward may be returned without review.
  4. When applicable: If a proposed effort involves a private sector partner or other organization serving as a partner (as opposed to an individual(s)), or a large formalized collaboration (e.g., through a memorandum of understanding or other legal document), a letter (one page maximum) confirming their participation must be included. In particular, proposals involving large formalized collaborations are encouraged to have the collaboration utilize this letter to document the role, importance and priority of the requested instrument in the overall efforts being undertaken by the collaboration.
  5. When applicable: If the proposal involves organizations other than the performing organization, list all partners.
  6. When applicable: Proposals for the acquisition or development of an instrument to be located at an organization other than the performing organization must provide a (one-page maximum) supplementary document stating the host organization's commitment to house the instrument. For the purposes of this solicitation, use of instruments at NSF's Antarctic facilities is considered to be field deployment and a supplementary document from the host facility is not required.
  7. For all proposals. Inclusion of representative, itemized vendor quotes is required for all MRI proposals. Although a proposal might reference and have a quote(s) for a specific make and model, the proposer is reminded that his/her organization's approved procurement processes must be utilized in the event of an award to establish the appropriate item(s) to be purchased and that applicable procurement standards for institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations are described in 2 CFR 215.40-48.

Encouraged:

a. For all proposals. Statements from individuals, on institutional letterhead, confirming substantive collaboration efforts and/or usage of the instrument may be submitted, but they must follow only the format indicated below.

To: NSF MRI Coordinator

By signing below I acknowledge that I am listed as a collaborator and/or major user of the instrument on this MRI proposal, entitled "_______(proposal title)_______," with _______(PI name)______ as the Principal Investigator. I agree to undertake the tasks assigned to me, as described in the proposal, and I commit to provide or make available the resources therein designated to me.

Signed: _______________________ Print Name:_______________________________

Date: _________________________ Institution:________________________________

The proposal body itself should describe the nature and need for a collaboration, and/or describe the major users and their need for the instrument. Statements of collaboration beyond that specified above, including letters of support/endorsement, are not allowed. Each statement must be signed by the designated collaborator/user. PI requests to collaborators for these statements should be made well in advance of the proposal submission deadline since, if they are to be included, they must be included at the time of the proposal submission.

Not Allowed:

  1. Statements of collaboration beyond that specified above, including letters of support/endorsement, are not allowed.
  2. Impact Statements and Eligibility Statements from the NSF "Facilitating Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions" program are not allowed. The certification statement indicating the type of performing organization, as defined by the MRI program, is instead required for all MRI proposals.
  3. Documentation that refers to other proposals being submitted by an organization (e.g., letters indicating which projects were selected through an internal competition) is not allowed.
  4. Other documentation not specifically required or encouraged above is not allowed.

___10. Data Management Plan. All proposals must include in no more than two pages a "Data Management Plan". MRI provides for the acquisition or development of an instrument but does not support the research that is enabled. However, a plan for managing data that will be generated by the instrument is required so that users, as needed, can more easily meet NSF's data management requirements. Please see the PAPPG for further information.

___11. Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan. When applicable: Each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. Please see the PAPPG for guidance.

___12. Single Copy Documents.

Required:

a. Collaborators & Other Affiliations (COA) Information. Information regarding collaborators and other affiliations must be separately provided for each individual identified as Senior Personnel. COA information specified in the PAPPG should be submitted using the instructions and spreadsheet template found on the Collaborators and Other Affiliations Information website. Please note that proposers using the COA template for more than 10 senior project personnel will encounter proposal print preview issues. Please see the COA website for updated guidance.

Encouraged:

b. List of Suggested Reviewers. Proposers are encouraged to submit a list of suggested reviewers (including affiliation) whom they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal as a "Single-Copy Document"; this is especially encouraged for multi-/inter-/trans-disciplinary proposals. Proposers may also list persons they would prefer not review the proposal, indicating why. Please see the PAPPG for additional information.

NOTES:

The following information applies only for those MRI proposals that will be reviewed in the Office of Polar Programs: The Office of Polar Programs (OPP) strongly encourages MRI proposals related to all aspects of polar research supported by the Foundation. For any proposals requiring access to the polar regions, investigators must contact appropriate OPP Science Program Officers (https://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?div=OPP) for guidance about submitting information needed to assess logistical support requirements (if any). This (in coordination with the cognizant MRI program officer to ensure MRI compliance) should be done during the proposal preparation stages.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing:

Cost Sharing is required.

Cost sharing 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 cost-sharing and cannot provide it. National Science Board policy is that voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited. When required, cost-sharing must be precisely 30%.

Note: The 30% cost-sharing requirement applies to only the portion of the total project cost budgeted to non-exempt organizations, including those participating through subawards.

The proposed cost sharing must be shown on Line M on the proposal budget. For purposes of budget preparation, the cumulative cost sharing amount must be entered on Line M of the first year's budget. Should an award be made, the organization's cost sharing commitment, as specified on the first year's approved budget, must be met prior to award expiration.

Such cost sharing will be an eligibility, rather than a review criterion. Proposers are advised not to exceed the mandatory cost sharing level or amount specified in the solicitation.

When mandatory cost sharing is included on Line M, and accepted by the Foundation, the commitment of funds becomes legally binding and is subject to audit. When applicable, the estimated value of any in-kind contributions also should be included on Line M. An explanation of the source, nature, amount and availability of any proposed cost sharing must be provided in the budget justification. Contributions may be made from any non-Federal source, including non-Federal grants or contracts, and may be cash or in-kind. 2 CFR § 200.306 describes criteria and procedures for the allowability of cash and in-kind contributions in satisfying cost sharing and matching requirements. It should be noted that contributions derived from other Federal funds or counted as cost sharing toward projects of another Federal agency must not be counted towards meeting the specific cost sharing requirements of the NSF award.

Failure to provide the level of cost sharing required by the NSF solicitation and reflected in the NSF award budget may result in termination of the NSF award, disallowance of award costs and/or refund of award funds to NSF by the awardee.

Other Budgetary Limitations:

Eligible Project Costs

Both funds requested from NSF and cost sharing, if required, must be used for eligible project costs, as described below.

The Total Project Cost should be based on the net price of the instrumentation, taking into account all academic discounts and other special purchase arrangements.

a. Acquisition proposals: Within the Total Project Cost (see Section V.A.6), eligible project costs are limited to the cost of the instrument, installation, commissioning, and calibration, the direct and indirect costs of maintenance, and of appropriate technical support (including training) to operate the instrument during the award period. They should be commensurate with the scale and scope of the instrumentation. Salary support, including fringe benefits and indirect costs, is considered an eligible cost only for personnel directly involved in maintaining the instrument or providing appropriate technical support to operate the instrument. Any proposal including students or post-doctoral associates in operations and maintenance should justify the involvement in terms of both instrument needs and the training the next generation of instrumentalists; reviewers will be asked to evaluate the appropriateness of this type of involvement. Travel costs associated with training for operations and maintenance may be an eligible expense but must be well-justified. Publication costs are not eligible costs for acquisition proposals. MRI support for research, research training, or education/outreach to be conducted using the instrument after commissioning is also not allowed.

For acquisition proposals, at least 70% of the Total Project Cost must consist of items that can be included on the Equipment line of the NSF budget form (Line D). Institutions that are subject to the cost-sharing requirement may only include entries on Line D and Line M of the NSF budget forms (i.e., funds requested from NSF can only be for items included on Line D) and should not include subawards. Institutions not subject to the cost sharing requirement must include at least 70% of the funds requested from NSF on Line D of the budget forms.

b. Development proposals: Within the Total Project Cost (see Section V.A.6), eligible project costs are limited to parts and materials needed for the construction of the instrument, commissioning costs, and the direct and indirect costs associated with support of personnel engaged strictly in the instrument development effort. Requests for personnel support must include a description of the responsibilities of the individuals involved and explain why a given position is necessary for the completion of the design, construction and commissioning of the new instrument. Any proposal requesting direct student support in development efforts must justify the involvement in terms of both project needs and training the next generation of instrumentalists; reviewers will be asked to evaluate the appropriateness of this type of involvement. Sufficient detail should be given to allow reviewers to analyze the costs and risks of the new instrument. Travel costs that are integral to the development work are eligible expenses. For development proposals, publication costs associated with the dissemination of information about the design and capabilities of the instrument are eligible costs. Support for research, research training, or education to be conducted using the instrument after commissioning, along with operations and maintenance, is not allowed.

Note: A Data Management Plan is required for MRI proposals. The intent is to ensure that MRI awards facilitate NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results by NSF-funded researchers who are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable amount of time, the primary data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. As a result MRI budgets may include incremental costs associated with the implementation of this plan.

Checklist

____ Is the request appropriate for the MRI program? Refer to Section II.A for General Information on the MRI program.

____ Is the research to be enabled appropriate for NSF? Refer to Section II.B: Eligible Fields of Science and Engineering.

____ Is the performing organization adhering to the proposal submission limit? Refer to Section IV.

____ Are font sizes and margins consistent with the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG)?

____ Cover Sheet (Refer to Section V.A: Full Proposal Preparation Instructions):

____ Is the proposal properly identified as "MRI: Acquisition", "MRI: Development", "MRI Consortium: Acquisition", or "MRI Consortium: Development" on the Cover Sheet?

____ Has one (or more) NSF Unit been identified for possible review of the proposals? Note: The Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) is not an appropriate choice for proposal review.

____ If the instrument is to be placed at a facility of another Federal agency or one of their FFRDCs, has the proposal been properly structured and identified as a Consortium proposal?

____ Project Summary (Refer to Section V.A: Full Proposal Preparation Instructions):

____ Is the Project Summary 1 page or less in length?

____ Does the Project Summary consist of an overview, a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity?

____ Project Description (Refer to Section V.A: Full Proposal Preparation Instructions):

____ Is the Project Description 15 pages or less in length, and does it also separately address both Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts?

____ Does the research and research training that will be enabled clearly drive the request for the desired instrument?

____When appropriate, does the Project Description clearly convey how the proposal is appropriate for consideration as instrument development?

____ Has the location of the instrument been identified and explained?

____ Are Results from Prior MRI Support, if applicable, addressed in terms of both Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts?

____ Has an adequate Management Plan been included in a separate section?

____ Budget: (Refer to Section V.B on Budgetary Information):

____ Are all of the items in the Budget and Budget Justification eligible MRI costs?

____ Is the amount of the budget request consistent with the solicitation and the scope of the proposed project?

____ Is a subaward included as part of a development proposal? If yes, has the amount of the subaward been included in the Budget Pages, and has a separate subaward budget been included? If applicable, is there a statement from the subawardee sponsored projects office certifying that this proposal is included in the organization's proposal limit?

____ If the proposal is for acquisition for an institution is required to cost share, is at least 70% of the Total Project Cost for items that can be included on the Equipment line of the budget?

____ If the proposal is for acquisition, and the cost of a maintenance contract or service contract is to be included in cost sharing, is this described in the budget justification?

____ Cost Sharing: Is cost sharing required?

____ If yes, is the correct amount (precisely 30% of the Total Project Cost, not 30% of the NSF request) listed on the budget form?

____ If yes and if the proposal is for acquisition, are entries on the NSF budget form limited to equipment and cost sharing?

____ If yes, is there a letter (one-page maximum) of commitment from the organization, included in the supplemental documentation, confirming the source and availability of funds?

____ Supplemental Documents: Refer to Section V.A: Proposal Preparation Instructions.

____ Is there a statement(s), using the template provided, indicating the type (Ph.D.-granting institution of higher education, non-Ph.D.-granting institution of higher education, or non-degree-granting organization) of each performing organization, including subawardees?

____ Is there a (two-page maximum) letter that documents the organization's commitment for operation and maintenance of the instrument, that also includes a list and status of the MRI awards made to the organization during the previous five years?

____ Have representative vendor quotes been provided and do they reflect the available discounts?

____ When allowed, has the proper format of any organizational statements of collaboration been followed?

____ Has only required or encouraged supplemental documentation been included?

____ Data Management Plan: Has a (up to two pages) Data Management Plan been included?

____ Postdoc Mentoring Plan: If applicable, is a postdoctoral mentoring plan included?

____ Single Copy Documents: Refer to Section V.A: Proposal Preparation Instructions.

____ Collaborators and Other Affiliations Information included for each individual identified as Senior Personnel?

____ Is an optional, but encouraged, list of suggested reviews included?

Proposals must meet administrative and technical requirements to be accepted for the MRI competition. The following are some key reasons for Return without Review:

  • Proposals that exceed an organization's submission limit (Section IV).
  • Proposals with budgets requests that fall outside of allowable MRI limits (Section I).
  • Proposals that do not contain, as supplemental documents, a signed statement from each sponsored projects office (including subawardees) classifying the performing organization as either non-Ph.D.-granting, Ph.D.-granting, or non-degree-granting; see Section IV for definitions of organization type as used by the MRI program.
  • Proposals that do not indicate, when required, appropriate levels of cost-sharing, including required documentation demonstrating organizational cost-sharing commitment. Cost-sharing at the level of 30% of the total project cost is required for Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education and for non-degree-granting organizations. Only non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education are exempt from the cost-sharing requirement and no voluntary committed cost sharing is permitted. Please see Section IV for definitions of organization types as used by the MRI program.
  • Proposals describing activities that fall outside of the scope of those supported by the MRI program (Section II).
  • Proposals describing activities that fall outside of the scope of those supported by NSF (Section II).
  • Proposals that do not conform to font, margin and page limitations.
  • Proposals that do not contain an overview and separate statements on intellectual merit and broader impacts in the Project Summary.
  • Applicable proposals that do not clearly justify submission as development proposals.
  • Proposals that do not contain a Management Plan in the Project Description (Section V.A).
  • Proposals that do not contain "Results from Prior MRI Support" or (if there is no Prior MRI Support) results from other NSF support in the Project Description (Section V.A). Both the Intellectual Merits and Broader Impacts must be addressed.
  • Proposals requesting funding to support postdoctoral researchers that do not include a mentoring plan describing activities that will be provided for such individuals. The mentoring plan must not exceed one page.
  • Applicable proposals to place an instrument at a facility of another Federal agency or one of their FFRDCs that are not submitted by consortia (Section IV).
  • Applicable proposals for instruments that augment the scope of an NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) project that is not receiving operations funding outside of the MREFC account (Section IV).
  • Proposals that do not contain required supplemental documentation, or that contain supplemental documentation other than those required and/or encouraged by the MRI program (as prescribed in Section V.A) and by the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

C. Due Dates

  • Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

         January 29, 2018 - February 05, 2018

         January 01, 2019 - January 22, 2019

         January 1 - January 19, Annually Thereafter

D. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

For Proposals Submitted Via FastLane:

To prepare and submit a proposal via FastLane, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov. The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

For Proposals Submitted Via Grants.gov:

Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant's organization can then apply for any federal grant on the Grants.gov website. Comprehensive information about using Grants.gov is available on the Grants.gov Applicant Resources webpage: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants.html. In addition, the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide (see link in Section V.A) provides instructions regarding the technical preparation of proposals via Grants.gov. For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or by email: support@grants.gov. The Grants.gov Contact Center answers general technical questions related to the use of Grants.gov. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this solicitation.

Submitting the Proposal: Once all documents have been completed, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must submit the application to Grants.gov and verify the desired funding opportunity and agency to which the application is submitted. The AOR must then sign and submit the application to Grants.gov. The completed application will be transferred to the NSF FastLane system for further processing.

Proposers that submitted via FastLane are strongly encouraged to use FastLane to verify the status of their submission to NSF. For proposers that submitted via Grants.gov, until an application has been received and validated by NSF, the Authorized Organizational Representative may check the status of an application on Grants.gov. After proposers have received an e-mail notification from NSF, Research.gov should be used to check the status of an application.

VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgment and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in PAPPG Exhibit III-1.

A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/.

Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation's Future: NSF Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.

One of the strategic objectives in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions must recruit, train, and prepare a diverse STEM workforce to advance the frontiers of science and participate in the U.S. technology-based economy. NSF's contribution to the national innovation ecosystem is to provide cutting-edge research under the guidance of the Nation's most creative scientists and engineers. NSF also supports development of a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by investing in building the knowledge that informs improvements in STEM teaching and learning.

NSF's mission calls for the broadening of opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria

The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects.

1. Merit Review Principles

These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:

  • All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
  • NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified.
  • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.

These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.

2. Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.d(i). contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal). Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.d(i), prior to the review of a proposal.

When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:

  • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to
    1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
    2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management Plan and the Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

Within the evaluation criteria stated above, reviewers will assess the following:

All Proposals.

  • The extent to which the proposed project will make a substantial improvement in the organization's capabilities to conduct leading-edge research, to provide research experiences for undergraduate students using leading-edge capabilities, and to broaden the participation in science and engineering research (especially as lead PIs) by women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities and/or early-career investigators.

Instrument Acquisition Proposals.

  • The extent to which the instrument is used for multi-user, shared-use research and/or research training.
  • Whether the management plan demonstrates sufficient commitment and technical expertise for effective scheduling and usage of the instrument.
  • The organization's commitment to ensuring successful operations and maintenance over the expected lifetime of the instrument.
  • Whether the research to be enabled is compelling and justifies the instrument request.
  • Whether the budget request is appropriate and well justified.
  • if student involvement is in the form of direct support for operations and maintenance of the instrument, reviewers will be asked to evaluate the involvement in terms of both instrument needs and the training of the next generation of instrumentalists.
  • For instrument acquisition proposals of $1 million or above, the potential impact of the instrument on the research community of interest at the regional or national level, if appropriate.

Instrument Development Proposals:

  • The appropriateness of submission as a development proposal.
  • The need for development of a new instrument. Will the proposed instrument enable enhanced performance over existing instruments, or new types of measurement or information gathering? Is there a strong need for the new instrument in the larger user community to advance new frontiers of research?
  • The adequacy of the project's management plan. Does the plan have a realistic schedule that is described in sufficient detail to be assessed? Are mechanisms described to mitigate and deal with potential risks?
  • The availability of appropriate technical expertise to design and construct the instrument. If direct support for student involvement in development efforts is requested, reviewers will be asked to evaluate the involvement in terms of both project needs and training the next generation of instrumentalists.
  • The appropriateness of the cost of the new technology.

Note: The reviewing Program(s), at their discretion, may request additional technical and/or managerial review/information as part of the merit review process.

B. Review and Selection Process

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.

Reviewers will be asked to evaluate proposals using two National Science Board approved merit review criteria and, if applicable, additional program specific criteria. A summary rating and accompanying narrative will generally be completed and submitted by each reviewer and/or panel. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF strives to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. Large or particularly complex proposals or proposals from new awardees may require additional review and processing time. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director acts upon the Program Officer's recommendation.

After programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications. After an administrative review has occurred, Grants and Agreements Officers perform the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

Once an award or declination decision has been made, Principal Investigators are provided feedback about their proposals. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers or any reviewer-identifying information, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

VII. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Notification of the Award

Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award notice, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award notice; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1)*; or Research Terms and Conditions* and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award notice. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at https://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter VII, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg.

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). No later than 120 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports, or the project outcomes report, will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.

More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter VII, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg.

The following topics should be addressed in all MRI annual and final project reports:

For Instrument Acquisition Proposals

  • Status of order, delivery, and installation;
  • Brief description of research projects that were enabled by the instrument;
  • Number of students with hands-on experience, to include demographic information (indicate undergraduate or graduate, gender, ethnicity/race, disability, major). Note: provide percentages for demographic data; do NOT identify specific students by ethnicity, race or disability status;
  • A list of the research groups granted access and the titles of the research and institutional affiliation, to include both on-campus and outside users;
  • Data on usage and downtime;
  • A short description of the management plan, noting deviations from the plan as described in the proposal;
  • Changes in sources and/or scheduling of cost-sharing;
  • Description of setbacks and resulting change of plans; and
  • Information on broader impacts activities to date.

For Instrument Development Proposals

  • Status of development effort to date;
  • Number of student participants, to include demographic information (indicate undergraduate or graduate, gender, ethnicity/race, disability, major). Note: provide percentages for demographic data; do NOT identify specific students by ethnicity, race or disability status;
  • Information on broader impacts activities to date;
  • New industrial partnerships;
  • Technology transfer (e.g., design and/or instrument);
  • A short description of the management plan, noting deviations from the plan as described in the proposal;
  • Changes in sources and/or scheduling of cost-sharing;
  • Description of setbacks and resulting change of plans; and
  • Modifications in timeline.

VIII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Please note that the program contact information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:

  • Grants.gov Contact Center: If the Authorized Organizational Representatives (AOR) has not received a confirmation message from Grants.gov within 48 hours of submission of application, please contact via telephone: 1-800-518-4726; e-mail: support@grants.gov.

Additional contact information for NSF's Major Research Instrumentation Program is as follows:

Office of Integrative Activities
Major Research Instrumentation Program
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
(703) 292-8040

E-Mail: mri@nsf.gov

Website: https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/programs/mri

IX. OTHER INFORMATION

The NSF website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, "NSF Update" is an information-delivery system designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail or the user's Web browser each time new publications are issued that match their identified interests. "NSF Update" also is available on NSF's website.

Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at http://www.grants.gov.

OTHER NSF PROGRAMS RELATED TO RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION (current at the time of publication)

CROSSCUTTING: Improvements in Facilities, Communications, and Equipment at Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSML)

CROSSCUTTING: High Performance Computing System Acquisition: Continuing the Building of a More Inclusive Computing Environment for Science and Engineering

BIO: Instrument Development for Biological Research (IDBR)

CISE/CNS: CISE Research Infrastructure (CRI)

ENG: Small Business Innovation-Research/Technology Transfer Program (SBIR/STTR)

GEO/EAR: Earth Sciences: Instrumentation and Facilities (EAR/IF)

GEO/OCE: Oceanographic Facilities and Equipment Support

GEO/OCE: Oceanographic Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination Program (OTIC)

MPS/AST: Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation (ATI)

MPS/AST: Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP)

MPS/CHE: Chemical Measurement and Imaging (CMI)

MPS/DMR: Materials Innovation Platforms (MIP)

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide Chapter II.E.6 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.

The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

The National Science Foundation promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

To get the latest information about program deadlines, to download copies of NSF publications, and to access abstracts of awards, visit the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov

  • Location:

2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22314

  • For General Information
    (NSF Information Center):

(703) 292-5111

  • TDD (for the hearing-impaired):

(703) 292-5090

  • To Order Publications or Forms:
 

Send an e-mail to:

nsfpubs@nsf.gov

or telephone:

(703) 292-7827

  • To Locate NSF Employees:

(703) 292-5111

PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS

The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:

Suzanne H. Plimpton
Reports Clearance Officer
Office of the General Counsel
National Science Foundation
Alexandria, VA 22314

 

Policies and Important Links

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National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation, 2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, USA
Tel: (703) 292-5111, FIRS: (800) 877-8339 | TDD: (703) 292-5090 or (800) 281-8749

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