Instrumental Access:
2017 Request for Applications

This RFA is closed as of Aug. 1, 2017.
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Seeding Labs seeks applications from universities and research institutions 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 ocean 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 its value on the secondary (used) market. The cost to purchase equivalent items new would usually be up to four times higher. For more information about shipment size, value, and composition, please see the Application Frequently Asked Questions.

We expect Instrumental Access participants to use the equipment for 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

24 April 2017
Online application portal opens

11 May 2017 (2PM GMT)
Instrumental Access webinar (optional,
recording will be available for viewing after this date)

28 July 2017
Deadline for submission of applications

September-November 2017
Interviews with top-scoring applicants

December 2017
Notification of awards

Selection of equipment and shipments to partners


Eligible Countries

Applicants must be located in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC) as defined by the World Bank. Countries that are IBRD-eligible but high-income are eligible to apply as upper-middle-income.

We are unable to accept applications from institutions located in the following countries: Afghanistan, Burma, Central African Republic, Chad, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.

Institution Type

Applicants should be one of the following:

  • An academic department (or the equivalent) at a degree-granting institution of higher education
  • A university-affiliated or public research institute that is actively engaged in research training as well as research

We prefer to partner at the level of the academic department, but applications from other university sub-units (e.g., a central lab facility, a school or college, multiple departments) will be considered for eligibility on a case-by-case basis. If you wish to be considered, please contact us with an explanation of your rationale to obtain pre-approval before applying.

Please note that individuals are NOT eligible to apply on their own; we partner with universities and research institutes only. Medical clinics, primary or secondary schools, and for-profit companies are NOT eligible. Academic departments located at university-affiliated teaching hospitals may be eligible, but hospital clinical units are not.

Academic Discipline

Regarding academic discipline, there are no specific requirements, but please note that your application will not be successful unless your needs for equipment are a good fit for what we can supply. Our inventory includes equipment most appropriate for use in biology and chemistry laboratories. We do not stock specialized equipment for physics, engineering (except fields closely allied with biology or chemistry), or computer science. You can find a list of the types of equipment we typically distribute here here and additional information here.

If you have any questions about eligibility or would like to discuss your situation in more detail, you are strongly encouraged to 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: $18,500
Lower-Middle-Income: $26,500
Upper-Middle-Income: $33,500

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 ocean 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.).

A commitment from the university Vice Chancellor or equivalent to pay the program fee if selected to participate is required as part of the application process. If you intend to raise funds from external sources, or if there are other unusual financial circumstances that apply to your situation, please contact us to discuss before taking public action.

Please note that the program fee is mandatory and Seeding Labs does NOT have additional funds available to further subsidize this cost.

Process to Apply

The 2017 Instrumental Access application form can be accessed and must be submitted 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 15-20 new partners.

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 11 May 2017. You can view the recording below.