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Equipment Competition

The Illinois Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) is running an equipment competition to support acquisition of small and mid-sized equipment for MRL-affiliated research groups and the MRL Facilities. The goal of the equipment competition is to enable acquisition of equipment too expensive to purchase through typical grant or faculty discretionary funds, but not of sufficient broad impact to compete successfully in College and Campus equipment competitions or sufficiently costly for funding through outside support. MRL expects to have ~$100,000 in 2021 to support this activity.

Equipment proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis. The target is to provide funding decisions is the end of the month following the month submitted. The selection committee may roll over proposals to a following consideration period with the consent of the submitting faculty. Once funds for the current year are expended, proposals will no longer be accepted until the following year.

Equipment funded under the MRL Equipment Competition program will be listed on the MRL web page. For equipment not placed in the MRL Facilities, reasonable access to the equipment for other research groups is expected. Equipment placed in the facilities will be charged for usage following the financial model developed for other equipment. Equipment costing less than $5,000 will not be considered, and requests for MRL support in excess of $25,000 will require exceptional justification.

Proposals will be evaluated by the MRL Facilities Committee based on the three selection criteria.

  1. Intellectual impact of requested equipment on research
  2. Impact on the broader MRL community
  3. Cost-share by faculty and/or other departments

Highly competitive proposals (criteria 1 and 2) will enhance the research capabilities of the MRL and enhance the ability of MRL faculty to compete for external research support. Proposals which impact multiple research groups will generally score better than those supporting the research of an individual group. One, but not the only, mechanism to enhance the research impact of multiple groups will be to place the equipment within the MRL Facilities. If the proposed equipment is intended for the MRL Facilities, the proposing faculty member should discuss the proposed equipment with Dr. Mauro Sardela in advance of submitting a proposal.

There is no fixed cost share, however, it is suggested that cost sharing be on the order of 50%. Cost share can come from faculty funds and other unit funds. Faculty should discuss the source of the cost share with Kris Williams prior to proposal submission.

Investigators are welcome to submit proposals with a “proposed” cost share.  For example, a PI may submit a proposal to the MRL Equipment Competition with a proposed cost share from an active grant if they are reasonably confident the grant program manager would allow a rebudget. In another example, an investigator could submit a proposal to the MRL Equipment Competition without obtaining a cost share commitment from another unit. The award for such proposals will then be dependent on the actual cost share being obtained in a reasonable time.

Proposals should be submitted using the MRL Equipment Competition Submission Form and must include an uploaded technical narrative that describes both the 1) intellectual impact of requested equipment and 2) the impact on the MRL community.  The  narrative is limited to a maximum of two pages of text and one page of figures, not including references (3 pages plus references if figures embedded in the text).  Download the proposal template here.  The proposal should describe what the proposed equipment is, what it does, and why it is important to the MRL research community. If the cost is determined via a budgetary quote or web page pricing should be indicated. Completed proposals should be submitted following the instructions on the Submission Form.

The PI must be affiliated with MRL as a faculty or staff member. There are no affiliation requirements for co-PIs. An individual can be a PI or co-PI on multiple proposals.

Equipment costing less than $5,000 will not be considered, and requests for MRL support in excess of $25,000 will require exceptional justification.

Faculty receiving awards will be asked to submit a status update 2 months after funds are released and a short final report 6 months after the equipment is delivered.