Research Infrastructure Investment Program

The Research Infrastructure Investment Program provides funding that supports research infrastructure in order to ensure the viability of critical facilities and research support services. The awards are designed to facilitate interdisciplinary partnerships and strengthen the University’s research infrastructure.

One-to-one matching funds from the collaborating colleges, institutes, and/or centers are required for funding eligibility. All campuses are eligible and encouraged to participate in this program. Directors are encouraged to partner and share innovative solutions or projects if cost beneficial.

Funding Cycle

Research Infrastructure is an annual, spring competition.

The cycle opens in mid-March and closes at the end of April. The award period begins July 1 and lasts 12 months.


Applications will be accepted beginning 3/5/2024 for the 2024 cycle.

03/04/24: Letter of Intent due (by 11:59 p.m.)
03/05/24: Application opens
04/01/24: PI submits application to approvers (by 11:59 p.m.)
04/04/24: Approvers submit application to RIO (by 11:59 p.m.)
June 2024: Award notification
07/01/24: Award period begins

Funding Scope

Funding is directed toward new or existing facilities, service centers or other shared resources. Requests can include funding to:

  • Replace, upgrade, enhance, or otherwise improve existing equipment
  • Consolidate, facilitate shared usage, or improve coordination among similar facilities or service centers
  • Purchase new equipment to expand services or user base
  • Develop new infrastructure
  • Hire specialized staff, for example to train (internal or external) users or to develop self-paced handbooks or user guides or to market the facility to expand the user base
  • Improve the electronic systems that support the administrative aspects of the infrastructure or its use
  • Other ideas or innovative approaches that meet the objective of improving research infrastructure services, equipment, or cost effectiveness


Some services and equipment are not considered research infrastructure. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Building construction
  • Transactional systems and support personnel included in cost pools (e.g. EGMS and SPA)
  • IT services unrelated to the support of specialized technology integral to research or scholarly effort
  • General, nonspecialized library services and collections
  • Indirect, nonspecialized support services (e.g. facilities/maintenance)
  • Infrastructure that primarily supports teaching, learning, clinical care, or outreach (publicly engaged research is encouraged)

How to Apply

Mandatory Letter of Intent

A letter of intent (see required LOI template) must be submitted to using “Infrastructure LOI” in the subject line and must include the following on the prescribed form:

  • The title of the proposal
  • Name, college name, and email address of the corresponding investigator (faculty member, director of the infrastructure or full time staff member)
  • College, school, or interdisciplinary center which will receive and manage the award
  • Physical location (building and room) of the facility or center(s)
  • Evidence of users outside the college that the facility or center director reports to (e.g., list of key users and the college they report to)
  • Estimated amount of funding being requested from RIO (not including the match)
  • Amounts and sources of match funding
  • Total estimated amount of funding (the sum of #6 and #7 above)
  • Brief description (not to exceed 200 words) of the nature of the project, including the type of equipment, system, and/or the type of the specialized services
  • Names of two to four potential UMN faculty reviewers who are not current users

Letters of intent will be reviewed to ensure that all eligibility requirements are met. In addition, the LOIs will be reviewed for any apparent or potential duplication in equipment or overlap of services requested. If there is potential for cooperative use or better coordination, RIO will initiate discussion amongst the investigators to explore those opportunities. Any LOI not meeting the criteria will be notified within two weeks.

Note: We will not issue invitations following the submission of the LOI. Everyone who submits an LOI is invited to submit a full proposal unless you hear from us.

Proposal Submission

Please refer to the Application Instructions for information about our submission process, including required attachments and approver routing.

Direct questions to

Start a New Application

Start a new application during an open funding cycle (see Availability/Deadlines). Only applications submitted through this system are accepted; fax, email, and paper copy applications will not be accepted.

If you click on the new application link when a competition is closed you will not be able to apply and will receive a message that says, "This competition type is currently closed. Please contact for more information."

Edit an Existing Application

To edit an existing application, choose “RIO Research Infrastructure Investment Program” from the Process list (top left corner). Click on “My actions to do”. Click on the link in the "Action" column.  On the next screen you will see your application. Note: Only applications created in the current competition will be accepted.

Proposal Requirements

All of the following criteria must be met to be considered for funding. Proposals must:

  • Meet the definition of research infrastructure provided above (see Funding Scope)
  • Be interdisciplinary and intercollegiate. Research infrastructure is deemed intercollegiate if its services are used on a recurring basis by investigators whose departmental home is outside the college that the facility or center director reports to.
  • It is desirable that any new equipment be placed into an existing shared research facility. If the equipment is not to be placed in an existing shared research facility, a detailed explanation of why that is not possible must be provided.
  • Provide a match of 50 percent of the total cost; that is, the match is at least equal to 100 percent of the amount requested from RIO. The match may be shared in any proportion by the collaborating units. Proceeds from the sale of equipment may be used as a portion of the match, however, if proceeds are not realized, none of the difference will be funded by RIO.
  • Be submitted by the director of the infrastructure with the concurrence of the colleges/departments/centers providing matching funds

Funding Limits & Constraints

  • Proposals will be accepted with a minimum request of $25,000 (e.g., $50,000 total with matching funding)
  • Funding may not be requested or used for building construction
  • Matching funds must be identified at the time the Letter of Intent is submitted to RIO
  • The budget period should not exceed 12 months from date of award
  • Request for acquisition of used equipment is permissible, if it has significant remaining functional life and has a positive benefit to cost ratio
  • Faculty salaries are not allowed, but compensation and benefits for nonfaculty specialized personnel can be included

If you have questions about whether or not your idea matches the intent of this program, please contact to discuss it prior to submitting a letter of intent.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Proposals will be reviewed by expert UMN faculty selected by RIO using the following criteria:
  • Centrality of the project to the research mission
  • Quality of the proposal
  • Enhancement of research synergies brought about by a collaborative effort
  • Potential for increased productivity and/or impact
  • Uniqueness and comparative research advantage offered, if any
  • Level of demand or need for the infrastructure
  • Quality of fiscal and managerial leadership
  • Length of time since receipt of nonrecurring funds from central (RIO or AHC) or college
  • Final selection will be made by the vice president for research and innovation after consultation with the president