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Note: The information on this page is based on NSF 18-513. This information will be updated as needed if NSF releases a new version of the solicitation with significant changes. (Most recent content update August 4, 2022)

MRI Program

The NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation through the acquisition or development of a research instrument that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs. An MRI award supports research needs across disciplinary boundaries and is expected to enhance research training of students who will become the next generation of instrument users, designers, and builders. 

  • An acquisition proposal is characterized by purchase or upgrade of a generally available, yet sophisticated, instrument with little or no modification and risk
  • 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

Each organization may submit in Tracks as defined below, with no more than two submissions in Track 1 and no more than one submission in Track 2. 

  • Track 1 proposals request funds from NSF between $100,000 and $999,999
  • Track 2 proposals request funds from NSF between $1,000,000 and $4,000,000

Cost Share is required at precisely 30% of the total project cost.


  • August 24, 2022: Notification of Interest to VPDoR (required)
  • September 1, 2022: Equipment report request deadline to PMO
  • October 3, 2022: Internal proposal due to VPDoR Limited Submissions
  • January 19, 2023: Full proposal due to NSF


  • Stanford faculty with PI eligibility
  • Other eligibility criteria: Medical Research Restriction
    • The MRI program does not provide support for instrumentation to be used in medical education (such as medical school courses). Please refer to Section II.B. Eligible Fields of Science and Engineering of the solicitation for more details.
  • Other eligibility criteria: SLAC
    • Proposals for the acquisition or development of an instrument involving another Federal agency or one of their Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) must be submitted as a consortium proposal by an MRI submission-eligible organization as described in Section II.A. MRI Program Scope of the solicitation.
    • If an instrument is to be housed at SLAC, then the PI for the proposal must be a Stanford faculty member with a primary appointment in a department on campus and submit an internal proposal, per the internal submission guidelines below, as a “consortium” proposal, with SLAC as a “partner”

Limited Submissions Process

This is a Limited Submission funding opportunity. A university-wide internal selection process is required prior to proposal submission to NSF. 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 information about Track limits above)

Find more information on the selection process and submit internal applications through the Limited Submissions portal page.

For questions about the limited submissions process, please email limitedsubmissions@stanford.edu.


Program information from NSF

MRI Program Information and Resources from the Research Development and Grant Writing Newsletter

The following resources were originally published in the Research Development and Grant Writing Newsletter, and have been separated into shorter files for easier reference. To access, you will need to log in with your SUNet credentials. (You are welcome to share the linked documents with others at Stanford. We ask that you maintain SUNet ID protection as required by our institutional subscription.)

Stanford support for proposals

Created: 10.12.21
Updated: 08.04.22