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Research security

The University of Victoria benefits greatly from research partnerships of all types. These partnerships allow our faculty members and researchers to advance their research and help solve worldwide issues through collaboration and innovation. Some research partnerships may have risks associated with them, and it is important for faculty members and researchers to understand and mitigate these potential risks. UVic is country-agnostic and will uphold principles of research security to ensure and maintain academic freedom and access to global talent. 

Research Security Unit (RSU)

We have established a Research Security Unit (RSU) at UVic that serves to protect our intellectual property and infrastructure, promote awareness of and provide education in research security, and help foster domestic and international partnerships. The RSU can help with:

  • Review of all security applications associated with Tri-Council funding
  • Review of Sponsored Research Agreements involving foreign partners
  • Host workshops and provide training on research security
  • Provide assistance in partnership assessments for faculty
  • Provide research security travel tips

Latest news

On February 14, 2023, the Federal Government issued a statement which indicated that CFI, SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR will be implementing new measures to ensure that grant applications proposing to conduct research in sensitive areas will not be funded if any of the researchers working on the project are affiliated with a university, research institute or laboratory connected to military, national defence or state security entities of foreign state actors that pose a risk to our national security.

Read more: February 14, 2023 - Statement from Minister Champagne, Minister Duclos and Minister Mendicino on protecting Canada's research

This site will be updated regularly with new information and resources for UVic's research community. 

Know your partner

 It is important to build research partnerships with known and trusted partner organizations in order to help mitigate risks. The Federal Government's Open Source Due Diligence Summary provides a good process to follow on how to research corporate records to look for foreign ownership, or determine who the owners of a corporation or key executives might be. Some sources that can be valuable include free databases, subscription databases, corporate websites, news releases, court records, SEC filings, and social media posts. 

Some helpful databases include:


The Government of Canada, the federal research granting agencies, and the research community have a shared responsibility to protect the integrity of our research ecosystem and to safeguard it from activities that undermine its foundational principles of openness, transparency, merit, academic freedom, and reciprocity. Accordingly, the federal research granting agencies are committed to ensuring that the open and collaborative research they fund does not contribute to advancements in military, security, and intelligence capabilities of foreign state actors that pose a threat to Canada.

Sensitive research can be defined as any theme of research that could generate results and technologies of dual-use (i.e., used for civilian and military applications), and this includes the following:

Public Safety Canada is currently developing a list of sensitive research areas. It is expected to include:

  • Energy technology (advanced)
  • Artificial intelligence and big data technology
  • Materials and manufacturing (advanced)
  • Life science technology
  • Sensing and surveillance (advanced)
  • Neurotechnology and human machine integration
  • Advanced weapons
  • Quantum science and technology
  • Aerospace, space and satellite technology
  • Robotics and autonomous systems
  • Digital infrastructure technology (advanced)

The government is yet to release the list of entities with ties to military, national defence or foreign state actors. Moreover, it is common understanding within the research security community that certain organizations listed on well-known sources online have a good chance of making the list. While we wait for the official list of entities, the following are sources the government may use in part to compile their final list:

As the Research Security Unit (RSU) scales up, we will be able to provide some support on partnership diligence. It is always recommended that you do your own due diligence on potential partners while considering partnership. Faculty members and the research community can contact for available support.

The Government of Canada has not yet released an official definition of affiliation. In light of research security, affiliation is expected to be linked to the list of entities that Public Safety Canada will announce in the future. Such list is expected to include universities, research institutes and laboratories connected to military, national defence or foreign state actors that pose a risk to Canada's national security. From what we gathered from various fora, the following scenarios could establish an affiliation:

  • A researcher is receiving in-kind support from any of the entities on the list
  • A researcher has some kind of status, such as adjunct professor, fellow or visiting scholar, at any of the entities on the list
  • A researcher is part of an official talent program involving any of the entities on the list
  • A researcher is receiving research funding from any of the entities on the list
  • A researcher is in an active research collaboration with any of the entities on the list

Moreover, co-authorship of publications is not being viewed as having an affiliation. However, it is common understanding that some co-authorship could potentially translate to an affiliation at some point in the researcher's career.

We do not have an official list of entities at this point in time, but are expecting one in the coming months. Terminating an affiliation is a personal choice, and is up to the researcher alone to decide. If a researcher decides to maintain an affiliation with an entity on the list, this would mean that they may not be eligible to access new federal government funding, and may have challenges collaborating with other researchers across the country. It is anticipated that an attestation by the lead principal investigator on behalf of the whole research team of the project will be required when seeking federal funding on sensitive research areas.

This is a personal choice as to whether or not you want to continue this affiliation or collaborative research project. If the affiliation or collaboration ends before any future funding is applied for, it might be okay to continue with the project. The Government of Canada is still requesting that researchers take all precautions possible to prevent unintentional transfer of IP or sensitive information to foreign partners.

The National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships will require the lead PI/researcher to make an attestation that all individuals working on the project (either from UVic or elsewhere) do not have affiliations with any entity on the list of entities expected to be released this summer of 2023. Please watch out for the Attestation Form from the funding agency when applying for federal funding starting this fall of 2023.

If your research program is not in a sensitive area, and the researcher(s) involved do not have an affiliation with a restricted entity, the risk to an individual researcher or a given research program is low. If your research program falls into a sensitive research area, you may need to take precautions when leading or participating in research collaboration projects. As indicated in the February 2023 statement from Minister Champagne et al., proposed research in a sensitive area will not be funded if any of the researchers involved are affiliated with a restricted entity.

The potential risks we see from these regulations include:

  • Access to funding: Being affiliated with, or accepting funds from one of these restricted entities could affect a researcher's ability to obtain other tri-council or federal government funding.
  • Declaring affiliations: Attestations regarding affiliations will be required starting in the summer of 2023. There will be an extra burden to update these attestations in the event there are changes in the composition of the research team, or if the team members add affiliations during the term of a research program.

The new measures requested in the Government of Canada's statement on February 14, 2023, will apply to research grant applications that are submitted after the policy takes effect. The implementation date for this policy has not yet been determined. The federal research granting agencies are currently working in close collaboration with the Government of Canada partners, including the national security departments and agencies, to assess the full impact of these new measures on their processes. Clear guidance will be provided by the Government of Canada in the coming months to ensure that the research community can appropriately comply with these new measures once they are implemented.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion are guiding principles to the implementation of these new measures, as with all research security measures that aim to safeguard Canada's world-leading research ecosystem. Freedom from discrimination is a fundamental and internationally recognized human right, that is necessary for all aspects of the research enterprise. The Government of Canada, the federal granting agencies, research institutions and researchers have a shared responsibility to ensure that these new measures do not lead to discrimination against or profiling of any member of the research community. This principle has been similarly reinforced in the Risk Assessment Form, which was updated in March 2023 and states that excluding any individual from participating in a research project on the basis of their citizenship or country of residence is not an acceptable risk mitigation measure. The Government of Canada and the federal research granting agencies will continue to support and to work with the research community, to safeguard Canada's research alongside our continued commitments to open science, international collaboration, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

 FAQ: National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships

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