Research Management Group (RMG)

National Science Foundation (NSF)
NSF 18-513 Major Research Instrumentation Program:
Instrument Acquisition or Development

Limited submission funding opportunity for Stanford faculty with PI eligibility— a university-wide Internal selection process required because only three applicants are permitted. An MRI proposal may request from $100,000 to $4 million for either acquisition or development of a research instrument. Per the NSF, "within their submission limit organizations are encouraged to submit proposals for innovative development projects".


Dean of Research internal deadline:   Thurs., Oct. 11, 2018, 5 p.m. (see internal submission guidelines below)
For the three applicants selected:
Institutional representative (RPM/RMG or CGO/OSR) deadline: Jan. 15, 2019
Sponsor: Jan. 22, 2019


# of applicants permitted: 3*
*The MRI program requires that an MRI-eligible organization may, as a performing organization, submit or be included as a significantly funded subawardee in no more than three MRI proposals. (See the definition of a significantly funded subawardee below*)

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

Amount of Funding:
Instrument acquisition or development proposals that request funds from NSF in the range $100,000-$4 million will be accepted from all eligible organizations. Up to 3 years for acquisition proposals; up to 5 years for development proposals. See the cost sharing requirement below.

Cost Sharing Requirement
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.

NSF webpages:
Program introduction webpage:

Full program announcement:



Definition of significantly funded subawardee:
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.

Proposals for instrumentation will be considered for all NSF-supported fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Researchers using this instrumentation need not be supported by NSF or the Federal government. Proposals will be considered for instrumentation used for NSF-supported fields of science, mathematics, and/or engineering.

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.
Exceptions: 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.

The primary purpose of the MRI program is to facilitate scientific and engineering research and research training through the acquisition or development of a major research instrument. The MRI program does not support requests for general purpose ancillary laboratory equipment or multiple instruments that serve to outfit a laboratory or research environment. The MRI program also does not support the acquisition or development of instrumentation used primarily for science and engineering education courses (this and other uses of the instrumentation may serve to facilitate the broader impacts of the project).

An MRI proposal must conform to the program's primary goals of:

Program Scope
The MRI program assists in the acquisition or development of major research instrumentation that is, in general, too costly or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs. An MRI proposal must be for either the acquisition or development of a single instrument or for equipment that when combined serves as an integrated research instrument.


The MRI program will NOT support proposal requests for any of the following:


ELIGIBLE PROJECT COSTS-highlights (see the program announcement for additional details)


Reminder- this is for PIs for proposals where (1) Stanford is the lead (performing) institution and (2) for PIs who are participating in a significantly funded subawardee proposal.

By Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, 5 p.m., please submit one PDF file of the following (specifying whether for instrument development or acquisition proposal), of the following to:

Jeanne Heschele
Limited submission program coordinator-Dean of Research Office
Funding Opportunity Administrator-Research Management Group

PDF file name: Last name_NSF_MRI.pdf

You do not have to submit your internal proposals through your institutional representatives (RPM/RMG or OSR contract officers) for their approval. You can submit them directly to Jeanne.

1) Cover page:
a) Include RFA title: NSF 18-513 Major Research Instrumentation Program
b) Project title-which should 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 ___."
c) Total estimated project costs:
d) Indicate one:
Track 1: MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $100,001 and less than $1,000,000.
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.
e) PI and Co-PIs: Names, titles, departments, addresses and email addresses (up to 4 Co-PIs are permitted)
**Note-: the # of applicants also applies to Stanford faculty who are participating in a significantly funded subawardees. If that is the case, the cover page must list the lead institution PI name and contact information and the contact information for the Co-PI: the Stanford faculty member (subawardee).

2) Department Chair letter- this letter should acknowledge the department's commitment to find matching funds for the required cost sharing of 30% of total eligible project costs should the internal proposal be nominated. If the proposal is interdisciplinary, please have the letter signed by the co-PI's department chair as well. If the Stanford faculty member is participating as a significantly funded subawardee (see the subawardee section above), then the letter must acknowledge the department's commitment to find matching funds for the required cost sharing.

3) (Limit: 2 pages) The Project Summary:
(Format: one sided, single spaced, Arial or Helvetica font size: 11)
The page limit does not include illustrations or references.
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. 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.
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.

4) Biosketch for each PI and Co-PI

5) Other support (include current and pending)

Selection process:
The Dean of Research Office internal review committee will select the three applicants to represent the university. The sponsor's deadline is Jan. 22, 2019.



Instrumentation Resources:
In order for Stanford University to make best use of its resources and to comply with federal regulations, best practices on major instrumentation acquisition are offered as guidelines to help support the research mission of the departments, labs, and schools through the university.

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