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 the research funded by the three federal research granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC).

The Research Support Fund 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 provided through the granting agencies is generally limited to direct project costs (e.g., research equipment, research assistant salaries, etc.). Institutions whose researchers receive funding from the granting agencies also incur what are often referred to as indirect costs of research.

RSF funds may be used by the institution to cover indirect costs to maintain the current level of services, or to support the institution's research environment and improve its management. Expenditure are permitted in the following areas:

1.    Research facilities;
2.    Research resources;
3.    Management and administration of an institution's research enterprise;
4.    Regulatory requirements and accreditation; and
5.    Intellectual property and Knowledge mobilization.

Overall, grants for indirect costs must add to, and not displace, any research support funds that post-secondary institutions have received 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; and
  • administrative costs associated with getting a patent for an invention.

Incremental Project Grants

The Incremental Project Grants (IPG) funding opportunity is a new stream of the Research Support Fund (RSF), in addition to the RSF grant, that 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 five existing categories of eligible expenses. The initial four IPG priority areas are:

  • innovation and commercialization activities;
  • facilities renewal, including deferred maintenance;
  • information resources, including digital resources, open access and databases; and
  • equity, diversity and faculty renewal (in the context of equity, diversity and inclusion).

The objective of the IPG stream aligns with the RSF’s objective to reinforce the federal research investment by helping Canadian post-secondary 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 annual or multi-year projects initiated by institutions, the IPG will facilitate tracking and reporting, to better demonstrate the impact of these investments.