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.
Types of projects
Within Mid-scale RI-1, proposers may submit two types of projects, "Implementation" (e.g., acquisition and/or construction) or "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 $4 million up to but not including $20 million. Mid-scale RI-1 "Design" projects may request less than $4 million, with a minimum request of $400,000 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.)
Broadening participation in STEM
Mid-scale RI-1 emphasizes strong scientific merit, a response to an identified need of the research community and/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 essential for both design and implementation proposals, as are well-developed plans (e.g., mentoring and professional development) for student training and the involvement of a diverse STEM workforce in all aspects of mid-scale design and/or implementation activities. The inclusion of individual project participants who are women, early-career researchers, persons with disabilities and members of other underrepresented groups are especially encouraged at all levels of the project team.
The Mid-scale RI-1 Program seeks to broaden the representation of PIs and institutions in its award portfolio, including a geographically diverse set of institutions (especially those in EPSCoR jurisdictions). Proposals submitted by, or involving partnerships between institutions are encouraged. PIs who are women, early-career researchers, persons with disabilities and other underrepresented minorities in STEM are also encouraged. To improve participation in science and engineering research for persons with disabilities, Mid-scale RI-1 encourages PIs to incorporate accessibility as part of a Mid-scale RI-1 design and implementation projects.