Research Support Fund

The Research Support Fund assists Canadian post secondary institutions and their affiliated research hospitals and institutes with the expenses associated with managing the research funded by the three federal research granting agencies.

A Tri-Agency initiative

The Research Support Fund is a Tri-Agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It is administered by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, which is housed within SSHRC.

Every year, the federal government invests in research excellence in the areas of health sciences, engineering, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities through its three granting agencies. The Research Support Fund reinforces this research investment by helping institutions ensure that their federally funded research projects are conducted in world-class facilities with the best equipment and administrative support available.

Eligible institutions receive an annual grant through the fund to help pay for a portion of the central and departmental administrative costs related to federally funded research.

The program (formerly known as the Indirect Costs Program) was introduced in 2003 as part of the federal government’s strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development. It currently has a budget of nearly $400 million and serves more than 150 post secondary institutions across the country.

What costs does the program support

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.

Indirect costs: 

The operational costs that underpin an institution’s research activities (i.e., heating, lighting, ethics reviews, facilities for animals used in research, management of intellectual property, environmental assessment and safety compliance). The services that give rise to indirect costs are institutionally based and are not specific to individual research grants. NSERC – Inter-Agency, Tri-Agency Financial Administration, Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (nserc-crsng.gc.ca)

For Research Support Funds, the indirect costs are grouped into five categories:

Institutions have flexibility in deciding how to use their grant, provided that the funds are used for the payment of current expenditures of indirect costs attributed to federally sponsored research that falls within the following five categories:

  1. research facilities
  2. research resources
  3. management and administration of the institution’s research enterprise
  4. regulatory requirements and accreditation
  5. intellectual property and knowledge mobilization

For greater detail, please follow the links provided in the indirect costs category list, above.

Learn more about the program