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Limited Submission Notice: NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program


National Science Foundation (NSF)


The NSF MRI Program 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. The Program focuses on multi-user/shared instrumentation that often supports research needs across disciplinary boundaries. An instrument acquired or developed with support from the MRI Program is expected to be operational by the end of the award period to enable the research/research training activities committed to in the proposal.

IMPORTANT: Boise State is a PhD granting institution and must provide 30% cost share based on total project cost. The Office of Sponsored Programs Pre-Award staff is available to assist you with budget development, including guidance about allowable cost share expenses.

For more information, view the Major Research Instrumentation Program solicitation.


Track 1: at least $100,000 but less than $1M

Track 2: at least $1M but up to a maximum of $4M

Regardless of track, acquisition proposals may be funded for up to three (3) years and development proposals may be funded for up to five (5) years.

Limited Submission Requirements and Timeline:

Three (3) submissions per institution are allowed. This includes submission as a lead organization, non-lead organization, or subawardee on any proposal. Proposals may be for instrument acquisition or instrument development. Two (2) submissions are permitted for Track 1 and one (1) submission is permitted for Track 2.

Only proposals approved by the proposer’s Dean and the Division of Research and Economic Development may be submitted to this program. For such approval, Principal Investigators must first submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to by 5:00 PM on Friday, October 1, 2021.

NOI Instructions:

The NOI should be a maximum of three (3) pages of narrative, one (1) budget page, and one (1) cover page, and include the following:

Cover Page (does not count toward 3 page limit):

  • Title
  • Key Personnel
  • Track (track I or II)
  • Acquisition or Development

Budget (1 page)

  • Budget for salaries and wages, fringe benefits, instrumentation, etc. The budget should include the cost share amount and a brief description of any space requirements or other university resources that may be associated with the proposed project. OSP Pre-Award staff are available to assist with the budget. Please send an email to by no later than 5 PM on Friday, September 24 for assistance. Pre-Award staff may be unable to help you develop your budget if a request is received after September 24.

Narrative (no more than 3 pages):

  • Intellectual merit
  • Broader impacts
  • The extent to which the proposed project will make a substantial improvement in the organization’s capabilities to conduct leading-edge research, to provide research experiences for undergraduate students using leading-edge capabilities, and to broaden the participation in science and engineering research (especially as lead PIs) by women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities and/or early-career investigators.
  • For ACQUISITION proposals, the following is required:
    • The extent to which the instrument is used for multi-user, shared-use research and/or research training.
    • Whether the management plan demonstrates sufficient commitment and technical expertise for effective scheduling and usage of the instrument.
    • The organization’s commitment to ensuring successful operations and maintenance over the expected lifetime of the instrument.
    • Whether the research to be enabled is compelling and justifies the instrument request.
    • Whether the budget request is appropriate and well justified.
    • For instrument acquisition proposals of $1 million or above, the potential impact of the instrument on the research community of interest at the regional or national level, if appropriate.
    • If student involvement is in the form of direct support for operations and maintenance of the instrument, reviewers will be asked to evaluate the involvement in terms of both instrument needs and the training of the next generation of instrumentalists.
  • For DEVELOPMENT proposals, the following is required:
    • The appropriateness of submission as a development proposal.
    • The need for development of a new instrument. Will the proposed instrument enable enhanced performance over existing instruments, or new types of measurement or information gathering? Is there a strong need for the new instrument in the larger user community to advance new frontiers of research?
    • The adequacy of the project’s management plan. Does the plan have a realistic schedule that is described in sufficient detail to be assessed? Are mechanisms described to mitigate and deal with potential risks?
    • The availability of appropriate technical expertise to design and construct the instrument.
    • The appropriateness of the cost of the new technology.
    • If student involvement is in the form of direct support for operations and maintenance of the instrument, reviewers will be asked to evaluate the involvement in terms of both instrument needs and the training of the next generation of instrumentalists.

If selected to submit a full proposal, PIs must ensure that proposals meet all requirements stated in the RFP, in the announcement and in the implementing laws and regulations related to this state grant program.

Key Submission Dates:

  • 9/24/2021 at 5PM– Final date to request Pre-Award assistance in developing the budget. Earlier notice is always appreciated.
  • 10/1/2021 at 5PM – NOI due to preaward@boisestate.eduPlease cc your Dean for visibility.
  • 10/19/2021 – Internal Awardees Notified
  • 1/1/2022 through 1/19/2022 – Full proposal due to NSF. In accordance with Boise State University Policy 5030, final documentation will be due to OSP no later than five (5) University business days prior to the NSF due date.

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