Grant Details

Mid-scale Research Infrastructure-1

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    47.041; 47.049; 47.050; 47.070; 47.074; 47.075; 47.076; 47.079; 47.083

    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    National Science Foundation (NSF)


    The Mid-scale RI program provides a flexible, yet robust, competitive opportunity to support research infrastructure of intermediate scales above the MRI and below the MREFC thresholds, respectively. This solicitation calls for mid-scale projects in the lower portion of that range, from $6 million to below $20 million in total project costs. This funding range will support a wide variety of research infrastructure design and implementation activities for any combination of equipment, infrastructure, upgrades to major research facilities, computational hardware and software, and the necessary commissioning, all leading to the direct advancement of fundamental science, engineering and STEM education research. With the exception of design awards, infrastructure acquired or developed with support from the Mid-scale RI-1 Program is expected to be operational by the end of the award period to enable the research for which the infrastructure was proposed. Examples of projects that may be supported by Mid-scale RI-1 include, but are not limited to, upgrades and major new infrastructure for existing major facilities, infrastructure that supports high-priority research experiments/campaigns, major cyberinfrastructure that addresses community and national-scale computational- and data-intensive science and engineering research, and major shared community infrastructure and resources as may be required to enable community scale research.

    To organize the diverse range of projects expected across the research areas supported by NSF, with a wide range of project types and costs, the Mid-scale RI-1 program is planned to be divided into the following categories.

    • Mid-scale RI-1: Implementation Projects (M1:IP) (e.g., Procurement, Assembly, Construction and Commissioning) Implementation projects may a) enable well-defined, limited-term research experiments with broad community buy-in and shared data resources and/or b) shared-use, mid-scale infrastructure for broad community use. M1:IP provides for acquiring, assembling, constructing and/or commissioning mid-scale infrastructure e.g., at labs, facilities or in the field, but does not support the construction or operations of labs/facilities or the science or operations undertaken with the infrastructure. Operations and maintenance costs are discussed below.
    • Mid-scale RI-1: Design Projects (M1:DP). Design proposals may be submitted to prepare for future mid-scale (greater than $6 million total project cost) and larger-scale research infrastructure. Design may cover Preliminary or Final Design, preparing a future midscale or larger project to a level of readiness that allows for a determination of the feasibility for implementation (assembly/construction). Only M1:DP projects may ask for less than $6 million. The minimum M1:DP budget request is $600,000, with the upper request for M1:DP being the maximum allowable Mid-scale RI-1 request of below $20 million as needed to prepare for a future mid-scale or larger infrastructure implementation project. Mid-scale RI-1 will not support early phase Research and Development that addresses technological issues that are appropriate for funding through regular research programs, or conceptual designs. Successful award of an Mid-scale RI-1 design project does not imply NSF commitment to future implementation of that project. M1:DP projects that submit to future NSF competitions for implementation must re-compete against all other proposals in any competition.

    The Mid-scale RI-1 Program does not provide operating or maintenance funds for projects it supports through this solicitation. However, both preliminary and full proposals must describe viable plans for continuing operations and maintenance of any awarded infrastructure.

    Mid-scale infrastructure is expected to serve a wide community and lead to public access to data resources. Mid-scale RI-1 investments are expected to demonstrate high potential to significantly advance the Nations research capabilities. Support for infrastructure to be located at other Federal agencies or their FFRDCs may occur through proposals from Mid-scale RI-1 submission-eligible organizations only when the infrastructure meets one or more of the exceptions for "Other Federal Agencies" in the PAPPG. Broadly accessible infrastructure to be located at NSF-supported FFRDCs may be requested through direct submission of Mid-scale RI-1 proposals by the FFRDC's managing organization.

    Mid-scale projects are ideal training grounds for the next generation of leaders in technological innovation. To maximize the impact of Mid-scale RI-1 investments, proposals must focus on innovative, potentially transformative research infrastructure that enables a strong component of student training in state-of-the-art infrastructure development and/or use.

    The science justification in all proposals must demonstrate the importance of the proposed capability relative to that currently available to the general US research community. Investigators whose preliminary proposals are for capabilities similar to those currently available to the U.S. research community are unlikely to be invited to submit full proposals. All proposals must show the project's value and benefit to the U.S. research community. Examples of benefit include, but are not limited to, open-access time at a facility, access to data products and software, and/or cooperation and sharing of technology with other projects. Strong project management and robust cost estimation will be emphasized in Mid-scale RI-1 proposal review, particularly for more costly or complex projects. Proposers are strongly encouraged to account for all foreseeable costs in the project budget, including adequate plans for risk mitigation. Prior to final selection, some implementation projects may be evaluated through a cost, schedule, and management review, involving a site visit or a reverse site visit with specialist reviewers, as a prerequisite for an award.


    History of Funding

    None is available.

    Additional Information

    International Projects: Projects with an international component may be submitted to the Mid-scale RI-1 program in accordance with the eligibility requirements above. International projects typically involve partnering a U.S. project with one or more international collaborators in a specific institution or organization. Successful international projects include (1) true intellectual collaboration with a foreign partner and (2) benefits that are realized from the expertise, specialized skills, facilities, phenomena, or other resources that the foreign collaborator or research environment provides.


    Randy Phelps

    Randy Phelps
    4201 Wilson Boulevard Room W 17116
    Arlington, VA 22230
    (703) 292-5049
    (703) 292-9040

  • Eligibility Details

    Eligible applicants are  Institutions of higher education (Ph.D.-granting and non-Ph.D.-granting), acting on behalf of their faculty members, that are accredited in and have their main campus in the United States, its territories or possessions, Not-for-profit, non-degree-granting domestic U.S. organizations, acting on behalf of their employees, and For-profit commercial organizations, especially U.S. small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education, are eligible for infrastructure support through subawards/subcontracts as private sector partners with submitting organizations; they may not submit proposals.

    Deadline Details

    Preliminary proposals were to be submitted by February 19, 2019. Qualified applicants were invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals were to be submitted by May 20, 2019. A similar deadline structure is anticipated, annually.

    Award Details

    Approximately $60,000,000 is available in funding. Between 3 and 10 awards are expected.

    • Mid-scale RI-1 program funding is pending the availability of funds. The number of awards within each Mid-scale RI-1 category (Implementation and Design) will depend on program funding level, categories of proposals and amounts requested, quality of proposals as determined by the NSF merit review process and award mechanisms utilized. Mid-scale RI-1 is expected to be a biennial competition. The frequency is dependent on the availability of appropriated funds. Proposals will typically be funded for up to five years, commensurate with the scope of the project.
    • "Implementation" projects may have a total project cost ranging from $6 million to below $20 million. Only "Design" projects may request less than $6 million, with a minimum request of $600,000 and a maximum request below $20 million.

    Proposals will typically be funded for up to five years, commensurate with the scope of the project. 

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