Everything You Need to Know About NSF MRI

NSF MRI Awards NSF MRI Awards


The National Science Foundation (NSF) runs the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program.

This program is aimed at helping researchers to get easier access to advanced, and essential, engineering and scientific instrumentation for research and training.

Researchers can utilize these resources in the NSF’s numerous higher education institutes and non-profit scientific and engineering organizations spread across the country.

This MRI is construed as a research grant or award which helps researchers to acquire and develop a multi-user research instrument that is usually too expensive or inappropriate with support through other NSF programs.

What is NSF MRI?

The National Science Foundation’s MRI award is meant to provide support to acquire essential research instrumentations which are extremely vital for advance in fundamental engineering and scientific research.

These instrumentations are critical for progress in present-day engineering and scientific research studies.

This MRI award also offers researchers the kind of support needed to develop advanced research instruments that can help open new avenues and opportunities in advancing the level of scientific and engineering progress called for the day.

Besides, the MRI award is also meant to boost the research training efforts of students who are set to become the next generation of designers, builders, in essence, every instrument used for the near future.

How much is the NSF MRI award worth?

Under the MRI initiative, researchers can receive up to US$ 4 million in funds to either develop or acquire essential research instruments. Applicant organizations need to submit their proposals in “Tracks”.

  • Track 1 – Track 1 MRI applications are meant to request funds from NSF, for an amount greater than, or equal to US$ 100,000 and less than US$ 1,000,000.
  • Track 2 – Track 2 MRI applications are meant to requisition NSF funds valued at more than US$ 1,000,000 but less than US$ 4,000,000.

Eligible applicants can only submit two requests in Track 1 and no more than one request under Track 2 proposals.

Additional Information on NSF MRI Award

Under the NSF MRI program, proposals are solicited for an amount up to US$ 75 million. The specific funding amount will depend on several factors, such as availability of funds, quality of proposal and numbers among others.

About 33% of the total fund amount is allocated to support Track 2 MRI awards.

The NSF gives preference to research studies that aim to develop next-gen instruments that can effectively help advance scientific and engineering-based research.

Hence, about 1/3rd of the total amount is set aside to fund instrument development in Track 1 and Track 2.

Thus, it is highly advisable to seek MRI funding when you aim to initiate innovative development projects.

How many awards are granted under NSF MRI?

The NSF offers around 150 individual awards. The number of awards mainly depends on the available budget, the number and the quality of applications.

Is there a limit to the number of applications or proposals submitted for the NSF MRI award?

The NSF allows an individual research organization to submit maximum 3 (three) proposals. Principal Investigators (PIs) need to consult with their organization’s or institute’s research office regarding the actual process for submitting applications for MRI awards.

The MRI guidelines dictate that eligible research organizations may include their name as sub-awardees in not more than three (3) separate proposals. Under this, an organization can submit up to 2 (two) submissions in Track 1 while they can submit only one proposal in Track 2.

As the NSF promotes the development of new instrumentation technology and equipment, it is strongly advised to seek MRI awards when your research study is focused on making innovative scientific instrumentation.


The NSF’s MRI award has helped hundreds of individual PIs and research organizations to discover and develop new, innovative scientific and engineering instruments which have helped advance the field significantly.

Feel free to apply for this award by visiting the NSF official website at https://beta.nsf.gov/funding/opportunities/major-research-instrumentation-program-mri.

See Also

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I am a dedicated healthcare researcher and an enthusiast specializing in medical grants, medical education and research. Through my articles, I aim to empower healthcare professionals and researchers with valuable insights and resources to navigate these critical aspects effectively.

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