Everything You Need to Know About NSF MRI


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 at their own higher education institutes and non-profit scientific and engineering organizations.

This MRI program provides funds to acquire and develop multi-user research instruments that may not be feasible through other NSF funding programs due to their cost.

What is NSF MRI

The National Science Foundation’s MRI award is meant to support acquiring essential research instrumentation vital for advancement 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 support needed to develop advanced research instruments that can help open new avenues and opportunities for advancing the level of scientific and engineering progress called for today.

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, and every instrument used shortly.

How much is the NSF MRI award worth?

Under the MRI initiative, researchers can receive up to $4 million in funds only to acquire essential research instruments; development projects have different funding limits. 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 $100,000 and less than $1,000,000.
  • Track 2—Track 2 MRI applications are meant to requisition NSF funds valued at over $1,000,000 but less than $4,000,000.

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

Additional Information on the NSF MRI Award

Under the NSF MRI program, the total amount solicited for proposals varies yearly based on NSF’s budget allocations. The specific funding amount will depend on several factors, such as availability of funds, quality of proposal and numbers among others.

The NSF prefers 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, seeking MRI funding to initiate innovative development projects is highly advisable.

How many awards are granted under NSF MRI

The NSF offers around 100 individual awards. The number of awards mainly depends on the available budget and the number and quality of applications.

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

An organization may submit up to three proposals if at least one is for instrument development. Principal Investigators (PIs) need to consult with their organization’s or institute’s research office regarding the process for submitting applications for MRI awards.

The MRI guidelines dictate that eligible research organizations may include their names as sub-awardees in no more than three (3) separate proposals. Under this, an organization can submit up to two (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 discover and develop new, innovative scientific and engineering instruments that have significantly advanced the field.

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

See Also

Grants for Infectious Disease Research

Mental Health Research Grants

Current Version
April 12, 2024
Updated By
Franco Cuevas, MD
October 4, 2021
Written By
Shubham Grover

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