NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) - Information and Advice

Program Updates, November 2022: NSF has released a new MRI solicitation (NSF 23-519). This updated solicitation includes a new Track (Track 3), focusing on helium conservation. In addition, the CHIPS And Science Act of 2022 directs NSF to waive the requirement for cost-sharing for the next 5 years. The addition of Track 3 and the elimination of cost-sharing does not come with additional funding for the MRI program, thus fewer awards are expected to be made in the following cycles. 


  • This is a limited submission opportunity in which NSF permits an institution to submit a maximum of four proposals, two in Track 1, one in Track 2, and one in Track 3.
  • This campus announcement provides details of the internal campus selection process for the February 2023 deadline.
  • There will be two MRI submission opportunities in 2023: on February 21, 2023 (with the UC Berkeley competition already underway) and on November 15, 2023 (details for this competition will be announced in early 2023). The annual deadline will be in mid-November from 2024 onwards.


NSF's 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 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.

The current NSF MRI solicitation (NSF 23-519) provides detailed information on the objectives and requirements of the program, guidance on appropriate instruments for acquisition or development, and instructions for proposal preparation and budgeting.

The MRI Program page provides MRI contact information, as well as links to Recent Awards Made Through the MRI Program (with Abstracts) and Map of Recent Awards. The MRI program archived its MRI Frequently Asked Questions (from 2015), but that page may still provide some useful information.


Outline for MRI acquisition proposal.This outline is based on the solicitation and NSF review criteria, providing a suggested structure and overview of proposal components to help proposers put together complete and compliant proposals to NSF. Prepared by BRDO.

Outline for MRI development proposal. BRDO will provide a third-party outline for MRI development proposal upon request; please contact us at brdo@berkeley.edu.


MRI Tips from an NSF Program Officer This document is based on notes taken during an MRI session at the NSF Grants Conference presented by Randy Phelps, Staff Associate for the NSF MRI program, in Phoenix AZ, Nov 2017. Prepared by BRDO.

Insights From an NSF MRI Reviewer Jeffrey Bokor, UCB Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS), served as a reviewer on an MRI panel in the NSF Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS) in 2017. His observations are summarized in this document. Prepared by BRDO.

Advice and Resources for Your MRI Proposal, by Lucy Deckard, Academic Research Funding Strategies, November 2021. This article, written by an experienced MRI proposal writer, includes common mistakes made by proposers, information about items that are particularly important for reviewers, and a proposal checklist. This article is available upon request; email brdo@berkeley.edu.


California Partial Sales Tax Rate Exemption for Research Equipment/Parts Acquisition