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Office of Research and Grant Development

Program Details

NSF: Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI)Instrument Acquisition or Development NSF 18-513

The NSF 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.

USC may only submit three proposals in response to this program announcement. Submissions are based on the dollar value of the amount requested from NSF; no more than two submissions are permitted in Track 1, proposals requesting from NSF $100,000 to less than $1 million, and no more than one submission is permitted in Track 2, which are proposals ranging from $1 million to $4 million in requested NSF funds.

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.

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.

Cost-sharing of precisely 30% of the total project cost is required. If you are submitting to Track 2, you should include quotes for your equipment, and also a statement that indicates how broadly the proposed instrument will be used for teaching and research. Cost-share commitments from the VPRs office will be based on the potential impact of the instrument/equipment on a wide number of users.

Your application submission MUST be coordinated with the Office of the Vice President for Research. Please send a three page abstract via email to Richard White ( by 5pm November 8, 2019. The abstract needs to have a header that notes the approximate amount you will request from NSF (either below $1M or between $1M - $4M). Within the text, please include information about your management plan and proposed outreach activities. You should also submit a biosketch for the PI. All Principal Investigators resubmitting a previously non- funded proposal must also include reviewer remarks. As noted above, proposed Track 2 submissions should include quotes and a statement about the potential broad impacts of the equipment on research and teaching.

The NSF window for applications to the MRI program is January 1 January 21, 2020. For more information:

Office of Research and Grant Development

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