The Minority University Research and Education Project Partnership Annual Notification (MPLAN) connects Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) with NASA Mission Directorates and promotes research collaboration. Funding up to $50,000 per award supports MSI teams to develop innovative ideas and action plans for commercialization. NASA provides expert guidance and resources throughout the program, enabling MSIs to unlock their full potential and deliver technological innovations that contribute to NASA's missions and benefit society.
This program consists of 2 phases:
In phase 1, MSI principal investigator’s (PI’s) submit proposals based on topics provided by NASA MUREP and the Mission Directorates:
Proposals should follow the submission and budget forms.
Phase 1 is open from April 11th, 2023 to May 30th, 2023.
In phase 2, awarded MSI PIs and their partners (if applicable) are invited to meet with NASA researchers and MUREP representatives. The meetings aim to serve as training sessions to pursue future NASA opportunities:
The meetings/training primarily focus on fostering collaboration, enhancing technical skills, and providing insights into NASA's research priorities to better prepare participants for future opportunities.
Phase 2 occurs from July, 2023 until late 2023.
Only Phase 1 awardees are invited to participate in Phase 2.
Phase 2 ends with a survey to better understand the experience and readiness of the MSI PI's to compete for future NASA opportunities.
A pre-proposal Q&A webinar was held on April 25, 2023 at 1pm Eastern. Click here to watch the recording.
In Phase 2, NASA facilitates communication and meetings between awardees, Mission Directorate representatives, and subject matter experts. It is highly encouraged that awardees participate in these meetings to exchange information and receive the full benefits of this program. Awardees have the opportunity to participate in a kickoff meeting, engage monthly with NASA researchers, identify opportunities with NASA, and network with other PIs.
The Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) is administered through NASA's Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM).The MUREP Partnership Annual Notification (MPLAN) seeks to reduce barriers faced by Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) in engaging with NASA through a planning activity to prepare them for other NASA funding opportunities, including NASA’s annual Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) solicitation and NASA University Leadership Initiative. MPLAN is administered through MUREP, which provides competitive awards to MSIs, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (ANNHs), American Indian Tribally-Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (ASNTIs). See here for a full list of approved institutions.
MPLAN aims to initiate opportunities for long-term collaborations between MSI researchers and NASA by tackling some of the challenges and obstacles faced by the MSI research community. The overarching goal of MPLAN is to stimulate creative engagements for MSI researchers, leading to increased participation from MSIs in the development of new technologies that support NASA's mission and commercial market development. Ultimately, MPLAN seeks to establish viable partnerships that can compete in other NASA funding opportunities, such as the annual SBIR/STTR solicitation and NASA University Leadership Initiative, opening doors to new possibilities and growth.
MPLAN Awards are intended to provide resources to MSIs to further develop ideas, facilitate research and development, and engage stakeholders. Winning solvers can utilize their prize funds for various purposes such as staff support, student experiences, professional development, travel, meetings, focus groups, research, evaluation, consultants, specialized resources, technical expertise, and support needed to develop and implement proposed strategies and approaches. MSIs may submit to any of the topics found here.
Successful proposals result in awards with a maximum amount of $50,000.
Roles and Responsibilities
Each recipient appoints a Principal Investigator (PI) in support of its award. It is suggested that PIs assume primary responsibility for implementing, operating, and managing the project as described in their original proposal. The PI may want to consider taking on some or all of the following tasks:
Leading, administering, and evaluating the project and its activities;
Collaborating with university leadership to promote Underrepresented Minority (URM) advancement in engineering;
Supervising project staff and ensuring compliance with policies and laws;
Using research-based best practices for the project;
Managing project budgets and complying with funding guidelines;
Participating in meetings and delivering progress reports in a timely manner;
Participating in performance assessment and evaluation activities aligned with federal government's priorities.
Each proposal must include a completed submission form and budget.
Proposals should not include any proprietary information. Proposals should only include information that can be made publicly available without compromising any intellectual property or proprietary rights.
Where relevant in the submission form, applicants offer a detailed discussion regarding the proposed research planning award activities including, but not limited to, the following:
Experience, Qualifications, and Facilities:
Identification of the key participants from the research institution and small business concern;
Discussion of expertise and qualifications of the participants including their level of support in the planning effort; and
Identification of key resources and facilities to accomplish technology development activities.
Scientific Merit and Feasibility:
Identification of technology development which is the focus of the collaboration;
Discussion of the innovativeness of the proposed technology development;
Discussion of potential approaches to developing the technology;
Identification of key risks and challenges to developing the technology;
Identification of potential NASA applications or mission which might benefit from developed technology;
Identification of the relevant MUREP need to extend beyond the award;
Discussion of potential commercialization opportunities;
Award proposals should be written at a conceptual big picture level, focusing on the overall goals and objectives of the award as detailed in the submission form.
Applicants submit a budget using the budget template (view a sample budget here). Budget details are provided to allow for assessment of the type of skills/expertise engaged in this effort and the number of hours committed. Estimated travel cost and purpose are also described (if any).
Proposed projects should not begin until August 15, 2023, when funds will be distributed to successful applicants. We recommend that budget proposals cover activities up to December 2023. Use of Government facilities or contracted technical support is not included in the budget submission. We also recommend that the materials and supplies budget not exceed 10% of the total funding.
In your budget proposal, please consider allocating funds for travel to at least two in-person meetings within the United States, as there may be opportunities to engage with your Mission Directorate cohort.
Please note that the budget requested for this award cannot exceed $50,000 and should only include expenses that are directly related to the proposed project. Indirect costs should not be included in the proposed budget.
NASA intends to select for award those proposals that offer the most advantageous research and development (R&D), deliver technological innovation that contributes to NASA’s missions, provides societal benefit, and grows the U.S. economy. In evaluating proposals, NASA prioritizes the scientific and technical merit of the proposal, as well as its feasibility and potential benefit to NASA's interests (as described in the judging criteria below). NASA strives for a balanced project award portfolio that takes into account diverse factors, including but not limited to, different types of institutional representation, participation by individuals traditionally underrepresented in STEM studies and careers, and geographic diversity..
Each proposal is evaluated and scored on its own merits using the evaluation factors for award described below:
Evaluation of proposed R&D effort on innovative and feasible technical approach to NASA problem area;
Demonstration of relevance to one or more NASA missions and/or programmatic needs;
Clear presentation of specific objectives, approaches, and plans for developing and verifying innovation;
Demonstration of clear understanding of the problem and current state of the art;
Assessment of understanding and significance of risks involved in the proposed innovation.
Experience, Qualifications, and Facilities
Evaluation of technical capabilities and experience of Principal Investigator (PI), project manager, key personnel, staff, consultants, and subcontractors;
Assessment of consistency between research effort and level of support from involved parties;
Demonstration of adequate instrumentation or facilities required for the project;
Detailed consideration of any reliance on external sources, such as Government-furnished equipment or facilities.
Feasibility & Reasonableness
Evaluation of whether the proposed plan, schedule, and budget is appropriate for the project/activity
This is your one week warning! The final submission deadline is May 30th, 2023, 5:00 PM Eastern Time (New York/USA). No late submissions will be accepted, so make sure to give yourself plenty of buffer time.
If there’s anything you’re unsure about, there is still time to ask for help. Post on the discussion forum or leave a comment on this post. We’ll keep an eye out for your questions.
We can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on. Best of luck finishing up your submissions!