About NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI)

The Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training in 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 awards provide 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. Cost sharing of precisely 30% of the total project cost is required for Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education.

NSF Limit:

Beginning with the FY 2018 competition, each performing institution may submit 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.

Important Dates

NC State Internal Selection

Previous NC State MRI Winners

The NSF MRI program is a tremendous opportunity for NC State to acquire and/or develop cutting-edge instrumentation that serves to expand the pool of shared research resources available to the NC State research community as well as the broader research enterprise in North Carolina. New equipment acquired or developed should: (a) focus on a University priority by addressing a real need not met currently and (b) provide maximum benefit to the University by serving many researchers. The Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) facilitates the process of internal submission and with the oversight of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research (AVC).

Submissions by Colleges: Before submitting an internal pre-proposal to the Research Development Office (RDO), pre-proposals must be approved by the Associate Dean for Research (ADR) from the lead NC State college. Proposal teams that request similar instruments will be encouraged to collaborate and consolidate their proposals.  Each NC State college is limited to three Track 1 internal pre-proposals and one Track 2 internal pre-proposals, as lead college. Each college will be responsible for ranking their proposals prior to submitting internal LOIs.

Submissions by Shared Core Research Facilities : Internal pre-proposals may be submitted directly to the Research Development Office (RDO) for consideration.  Although prior approval from a CRO is not required, discussions with ADRs are recommended to gain support and potential cost-share commitments.  Each NC State Shared Core Research Facility is limited to one internal pre-proposal, independent of track.

Letter of Intent (LOI)

An internal LOI is required prior to the submission of a pre-proposal to help ORI identify proposal teams with overlapping instrumentation requests. LOIs must be submitted to limited-submission@ncsu.edu by 5pm on Thursday 7/23.

LOIs originating from a college: LOIs must be submitted to ORI by the PI’s College Research Office. LOIs submitted by PIs will not be accepted. Since lead colleges are limited to three Track 1 proposals and one Track 2 proposal, LOIs for no more than those four proposals should be submitted for consideration. Along with the LOIs, the CROs must rank their pre-proposals, based on the college’s equipment priorities.

LOIs originating from a Core Research Facility: LOIs must be submitted to ORI by the Director, regardless of who the PI is. The PI must be an eligible PI at NC State. LOIs for no more than one proposal per core facility should be submitted for consideration.

LOIs must specify:

Pre-Proposal Submission and Review

Pre-proposals must be submitted to InfoReady Review by 5 pm on Thursday 8/13. A template with full instructions on pre-proposal requirements will be provided to the PIs named on the LOIs as submitted by the CROs and core facilities (see above).

Pre-proposals will be reviewed by ORI and college ADRs based on the following criteria:

PIs will be notified of a decision regarding their pre-proposals in September.


Questions about your college’s selection process should be directed to your College Research Office.

Other questions about this program can be directed to limited-submission@ncsu.edu.