Mid-scale Research Infrastructure-2 (Mid-scale RI-2)

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21-537

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.

Synopsis

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 a cross-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 Research Facility projects (Major Facilities), 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-2 Program (Mid-scale RI-2) supports the implementation of unique and compelling RI projects.  Mid-scale RI-2 projects may include any combination of equipment, instrumentation, cyberinfrastructure, broadly used large-scale data sets, and the commissioning and/or personnel needed to successfully complete the project.  Mid-scale RI-2 projects should fill a research community-defined scientific need, or address an identified national research priority, that enables current and next-generation U.S. researchers and a diverse STEM workforce to remain competitive in a global research environment. The total cost for Mid-scale RI-2 projects ranges from $20 million to below the threshold for a Major Facilities Project, currently $100 million. Mid-scale RI-2 projects will directly enable advances in any of the research domains supported by NSF, including STEM education research. Projects may also include upgrades to existing research infrastructure.

The Mid-scale RI-2 Program emphasizes projects that have strong scientific merit, respond to an identified need of the research community, demonstrate technical and managerial readiness for implementation, include a well-developed plan for student training  in the design and implementation of mid-scale research infrastructure, and involve a diverse workforce in mid-scale facility development, and/or associated data management. Training of students in design and implementation, not just in scientific exploitation of the infrastructure, is essential.

Please consult NSF 19-068 Major Facilities Guide (MFG)  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, including guidance on the PEP.

Mid-scale RI-2 will consider only the implementation (typically construction or acquisition) stage of a project, including a limited degree of final development or necessary production design immediately preparatory to implementation. It is thus intended that Mid-scale RI-2 will support projects in high states of project and technical readiness for implementation, i.e., those that have already matured through previous developmental investments. Accordingly, Mid-scale RI-2 does not support pre-implementation (early-stage design or development) activities. Mid-scale RI-2 also does not support post-implementation research, operations or maintenance, the anticipated source(s) of which are expected to be discussed in the proposal.

The Mid-scale RI-2 Program seeks broad representation in its award portfolio, with PIs from a broad geographic distribution of institutions (including EPSCoR jurisdictions), women, early-career researchers, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities. For the latter group, Mid-scale RI-2 encourages PIs to consider Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) requests as part of a Mid-scale RI proposal submission (see the current PAPPG). The total amount requested, including the base Mid-scale RI-2 budget and the FASED request must not exceed the Mid-scale RI-2 program’s budget limit.

It is anticipated that future solicitations will be issued approximately biennially.

Note: Research infrastructure and instrumentation in the range just above the current Major Research Instrumentation Program threshold and below the Mid-scale RI-2 threshold is the subject of the Mid-scale Research Infrastructure-1 solicitation (NSF 21-505). 

Program Contacts

Brian Midson
GEO
bmidson@nsf.gov (703) 292-8145 GEO/OCE
Allena K. Opper
aopper@nsf.gov (703) 292-8958 MPS/PHY
William L. Miller
CISE
wlmiller@nsf.gov (703) 292-7886 CISE/OAC
Joy M. Pauschke
ENG
jpauschk@nsf.gov (703) 292-7024 ENG/CMMI
Sridhar Raghavachari
BIO
sraghava@nsf.gov (703) 292-4845 BIO/IOS
Joseph M. Whitmeyer
jwhitmey@nsf.gov (703) 292-7808 SBE/SES
Lee L. Zia
EHR
lzia@nsf.gov (703) 292-5140 EHR/DUE

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