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Federal Research Support Fund

The objective of the federal Research Support Fund (RSF) is to assist Canadian post-secondary institutions with the expenses associated with managing research funded by 3 federal research granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC).

The RSF is a tri-agency initiative and is administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, which is housed within SSHRC.

Indirect costs of research

Research funding through the granting agencies is generally limited to direct project costs (research equipment, research assistant salaries, etc.). Institutions whose researchers receive funding from the granting agencies also acquire indirect costs of research.

Institutions can use RSF funds to cover indirect costs to maintain the current level of services, or to support the institution's research environment and improve its management. Expenditure is permitted in the following areas:

Overall, grants for indirect costs must add to, not displace, any research support funds that post-secondary institutions receive from the provincial government, private sector or other federal sources.

The overall goal of the RSF is to help ensure Canada's research institutions remain among the best in the world. By subsidizing the financial burden of indirect costs, the fund helps researchers and universities focus on delivering innovative research and scholarly excellence.

Examples of costs supported by the program are:

  • salaries for staff or students who provide administrative support for researchers and their projects
  • training costs for workplace health and safety, as well as the development and promotion of equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives and practices
  • costs related to the maintenance of libraries and laboratories
  • administrative costs associated with getting an invention patent

Incremental project grants

The Incremental Project Grants (IPG) funding opportunity is a new stream of the RSF. In addition to the RSF grant, it provides further support for the indirect costs of research.

The IPG provides eligible institutions with additional support for projects that focus on a set of priorities that cut across the RSF’s 5 existing categories of eligible expenses.

The initial 4 IPG priority areas are:

  1. Innovation and commercialization activities
  2. Facilities renewal, including deferred maintenance
  3. Information resources, including digital resources, open access and databases
  4. Equity, diversity and faculty renewal (in the context of equity, diversity and inclusion)

By directing funds to specific investments and annual or multi-year projects initiated by institutions, the IPG will facilitate tracking and reporting to better demonstrate the impact of these investments.

Research security funding

The Government of Canada introduced new funding through the Research Support Fund (RSF) in Budget 2022 to further support the activities related to the indirect costs of research security and to support the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships. The investments in research security will provide $125 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, and $25 million ongoing per year, in addition to the existing investments for the RSF and Incremental Project Grants (IPGs). 

Research security is categorized as a fifth priority area of the IPGs. These investments are aligned with the RSF's objectives to help Canadian postsecondary institutions ensure their federally funded research projects are conducted in world-class facilities with the best equipment and administrative support available. By directing funds to specific investments and to annual or multiyear projects initiated by institutions, research security funding will help to build capacity within postsecondary institutions to identify, assess and mitigate the potential risks to research security.