Funding Opportunities With Institutional Limits

Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) (NSF 18-513)

UA Little Rock Internal Competition

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.

Eligibility Information

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: Three (3) as described below.

The MRI program requires that an MRI-eligible organization may, as a performing organization, submit or be included as a significantly funded [3] 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.


UA Little Rock Internal Competition

To accommodate this limitation, ORSP will hold an internal white paper competition to select UA Little Rock’s submissions. Please see below for competition deadlines and requirements. Contact Tammie Cash at if you have questions or comments about any aspect of the on-campus competition.



ORSP white paper submission deadline: December 10, 2021

Notification to PIs to move forward for proposal: December 15, 2021

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

January 1, 2022 – January 19, 2022


White Paper Submission Requirements

Principal investigators must submit their white papers as a single .pdf document to the ORSP Internal RFP email address,, with the subject header “NSF MRI” by 5:00 p.m. on [insert date].  The white paper must contain the following information:


Cover Page (1 page)

·         Title

·         PI name and contact information

·         Co-PI names and contact information

·         Synopsis


Project Summary (maximum length, 1 page): Each proposal must contain a summary of the proposed project not more than one page in length.  It should consist of an overview, a statement of the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity (See NSF 18-513).


Budget and Budget Justification (1 page)

·         State the total project cost

·         State the major expense categories of the budget and the justification for each category


NOTE: All white papers will be reviewed by an internal review committee appointed by the Vice Provost for Research. White papers will be selected to move forward and will be announced by December 15, 2021.