Instrumental Access:
2016 Request for Applications

The 2016 Request for Applications is now closed

Seeding Labs seeks applications from universities in low- and middle-income countries for Instrumental Access, a program that provides high-quality scientific equipment for research and education at an affordable price.

About Seeding Labs & Instrumental Access

Seeding Labs is a US-based non-governmental organization dedicated to helping talented scientists in the developing world conduct life-changing research. Our Instrumental Access program removes a key barrier to research and science teaching by making laboratory equipment available to universities in low- and middle-income countries.

Program Details

Through Instrumental Access, participants select items to meet their needs from Seeding Labs’ inventory of new and used equipment, glassware, and consumables (see types of equipment that may be available here). Selected items are then packed into a 20-foot shipping container and sent to the nearest or most convenient port via ocean freight.

Every shipment is unique, but the fair market value of the items included in our shipments typically falls between $60,000 and $150,000 based on value on the secondary (used) market. The cost to purchase equivalent items new would be much higher. For more information about shipment size, value, and composition, please see the Instrumental Access 2016 RFA Frequently Asked Questions.

We expect Instrumental Access participants to use this equipment for activities like research projects, graduate student theses or dissertations, classroom teaching, or other research and educational activities. We encourage efforts to create or enhance a shared facility or resource that will be used by other departments or institutions.

Acceptance into Instrumental Access is the beginning of an ongoing relationship with Seeding Labs. Participants are required to periodically submit reports on equipment use and resulting outcomes. Participants also gain access to the Seeding Labs network of scientists around the world and may be eligible to participate in future Seeding Labs programs.

Important Dates

10 May 2016
Online application portal opens

1 June 2016
Instrumental Access webinar

26 August 2016
Deadline for submissions (note: extended)

January 2017
Notification of awards


Applicants must be located in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC) as defined by the World Bank. We are unable to accept applications from the following countries: Afghanistan, Burma, Central African Republic, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

The equipment in our inventory is designed for biology and chemistry, so applicants should specialize in a related discipline.

Applicants should be one of the following:

  • An academic department (or the equivalent) at a degree-granting institution of higher education
  • A research institute affiliated with a degree-granting institution of higher education that engages in training as well as research

Applications from academic units at a higher level than the department (e.g., a central lab facility, a school or college, multiple departments) may be considered for eligibility on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us to obtain pre-approval and special instructions before applying.

Please note that individuals are not eligible to apply on their own. Hospitals, clinics, secondary schools, government research labs, non-university NGOs, and for-profit companies are not eligible.

If you have questions or would like to discuss whether your department qualifies, please contact us.

Program Costs

Participation in Instrumental Access is economical, but it is not free. Participants must pay a fee that is adjusted to the income level of their country (according to World Bank classifications at the time of application):

Low-Income Country: $18,000
Lower-Middle-Income Country: $25,500
Upper-Middle-Income Country: $32,000

The program fee covers a portion of the cost of services provided by Seeding Labs. These services include program administration, equipment procurement, quality control and packing, insurance, and ocean freight to the nearest or most convenient port.

In addition to the program fee, participants are responsible for any costs associated with the customs clearance process and transportation of the equipment from the port of entry. There may also be additional costs associated with installing and using the particular items selected (e.g., electrical adapters/transformers, required software, reagents, accessories, etc.).

Process to Apply

The 2016 Instrumental Access application form can be accessed via our online portal.

You must use a current version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer when accessing this portal; use of other browsers may cause you to lose your application data. Please see the FAQ if you need assistance navigating the portal.

Applications are typically submitted by a department head, professor, or administrator on behalf of the department or institution. Applications must be submitted in English. The application form includes questions about:

  • Why equipment is needed
  • Existing facilities, personnel, and support environment at the applicant department
  • Specific equipment needs
  • Plans for the coordination, distribution, and sharing of equipment
  • Specific proposals to use equipment for education/training and research

Letters of support from the university’s Vice-Chancellor or equivalent and two additional members of the applicant department are also required.

Review Process

An independent panel of reviewers will read and score applications. Applications will be evaluated by external reviewers according to three criteria:

  1. Applicant’s need for equipment to accomplish specific research and education objectives
  2. Applicant’s potential for effective use of requested equipment
  3. Anticipated impact of equipment use

Top-scoring applicants will be invited to participate in an interview with Seeding Labs staff via Skype or teleconference. These interviews must include the primary applicant, department head or equivalent, and the university Vice-Chancellor or equivalent.

We expect to accept 10-15 new participants in 2016.

For More Information & Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to the program and application process are available here.

Application-related announcements or addendums will be posted to this page.

Please direct all inquiries regarding the program and application process to


Seeding Labs held a webinar for interested applicants on 1 June at 2:00PM GMT and the recording is available below. The slides from the webinar can be downloaded here.