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Mid-scale Research Infrastructure-1 (Mid-scale RI-1)

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 22-637 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Supports the design and implementation of research infrastructure — including equipment, cyberinfrastructure, large-scale datasets and personnel — whose total project costs exceed NSF's Major Research Instrumentation program but are under $20 million.


In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of “Big Ideas,” 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/index.jsp). The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Office of Integrative Activities, once received, the proposals will be managed by across-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.

NSF-supported science and engineering research increasingly relies on cutting-edge infrastructure. With its Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program and Major Multi-user Facilities (Major Facilities) projects, NSF supports infrastructure projects at the lower and higher ends of infrastructure scales across science and engineering research disciplines. The Mid-scale Research Infrastructure Big Idea is intended to provide NSF with an agile, Foundation-wide process to fund experimental research capabilities in the mid-scale range between the MRI and Major Facilities thresholds.

NSF defines Research Infrastructure (RI) as any combination of facilities, equipment, instrumentation, or computational hardware or software, and the necessary human capital in support of the same. Major facilities and mid-scale projects are subsets of research infrastructure. The NSF Mid-scale Research Infrastructure-1 Program (Mid-scale RI-1) supports the design or implementation of unique and compelling RI projects. Mid-scale RI-1 implementation projects may include any combination of equipment, instrumentation, cyberinfrastructure, broadly used large-scale datasets, and the commissioning and/or personnel needed to successfully complete the project, or the design efforts intended to lead to eventual implementation of a mid-scale class project. Mid-scale RI-1 design projects will include the design efforts intended to lead to eventual implementation of a mid-scale class RI project. Mid-scale RI-1 projects should fill a research community-defined scientific need or enable a national research priority to be met. Mid-scale RI-projects should also enable US researchers to remain competitive in a global research environment and involve the training of a diverse workforce engaged in the design and implementation of STEM infrastructure.

Mid-scale RI-1 emphasizes strong scientific merit, a response to an identified need of the research community or fulfillment of a national need to enable U.S. researchers to be competitive in a global research environment. Well-conceived technical and management plans are required for both design and implementation projects, as are well-developed plans for student training and the involvement of a diverse workforce in all aspects of mid-scale activities.

Within Mid-scale RI-1, proposers may submit two types of projects, “Implementation” (e.g., acquisition/construction) and “Design”. The “Design” track is intended to facilitate progress toward readiness for a mid-scale range implementation project. Both Implementation and Design projects may involve new or upgraded research infrastructure. Mid-scale RI-1 "Implementation" projects may have a total project cost ranging from $6 million up to but not including $20 million. Only Mid-scale RI-1 "Design" projects may request less than $6 million, with a minimum request of $600,000 and a maximum request up to but not including $20 million, as appropriate, to prepare for a future mid-scale range implementation project. (Note: Successful award of a Mid-scale RI-1 design project does not imply NSF commitment to the future implementation of the project being designed, nor is a Mid-scale RI-1 design award required for the submission of an implementation project.)

The Mid-scale RI-1 Program seeks broad representation of PIs and institutions in its award portfolio, including a geographically diverse set of institutions (including those in EPSCoR jurisdictions) and PIs who are women, early-career researchers, members of underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities. For the latter group, Mid-scale RI-1 encourages PIs to consider Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) requests as part of an Mid-scale RI-1 proposal submission (see the current PAPPG). The total amount requested, including the base Mid-scale RI-1 budget and any FASED request must not exceed the Mid-scale RI-1 program’s budget limit.

Please consult NSF's Major Facilities Guide (available at https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/lfo/lfo_documents.jsp) for definitions of terms used in this solicitation, such as the Project Execution Plan (PEP). Section 5 of the MFG provides guidance specific to Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure Projects. Note that PEP should be appropriately scaled for the complexity of the project, and may not require all of the elements described elsewhere in the MFG.

Mid-scale research infrastructure projects beyond the Mid-scale RI-1 program limit are separately solicited through the Mid-scale RI-2 program.

Program contacts

Randy L. Phelps
rphelps@nsf.gov (703) 292-8040 OD/OIA
Robert D. Fleischmann
rfleisch@nsf.gov (703) 292-7191 BIO/DBI
Deepankar (Deep) Medhi
dmedhi@nsf.gov (703) 292-8950 CISE/CNS
Andrea Lisa Nixon
anixon@nsf.gov (703) 292-5323 EHR/DGE
Aranya Chakrabortty
achakrab@nsf.gov (703) 292-8113 MPS/DMR
Margaret Benoit
mbenoit@nsf.gov (703) 292-7233 GEO/EAR
Guebre X. Tessema
gtessema@nsf.gov (703) 292-4935 MPS/DMR
Joseph Whitmeyer
jwhitmey@nsf.gov 703-292-7808 SBE/SES
Maija M. Kukla
mkukla@nsf.gov (703) 292-4940 OD/OISE
Timothy M. VanReken
tvanreke@nsf.gov (703) 292-7378 OD/OIA

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