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What is the Research Support Fund?

The Research Support Fund (RSF) which replaces the Indirect Costs Program is an annual institutional grant awarded to Canadian post-secondary institutions and their affiliates to help offset the indirect costs associated with managing the research funded by Tri-Council agencies (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC). As a result, the RSF relieves the institutional financial burden and enables the university to foster an atmosphere in which academics may focus on their research, collaborate with colleagues, and capitalize their findings and innovations.

What are indirect costs of research?

Indirect research costs (also known as overhead) are expenses incurred by universities and colleges when conducting research that cannot be ascribed to a specific research project or program. They consist of, but are not limited to:    

  • Use of laboratory capital equipment and general University buildings/equipment;   
  • Cleaning and maintenance;   
  • Utilities (heat, power, water, telephone, etc.);   
  • Accounting, administrative and computer services;   
  • Legal and consultative services; 
  • Animal care and ethics support;   
  • Library and data management expenses;   
  • Human Resources services;   
  • General and project coordination/management;
  • Depreciation and other indirect costs.  

Research Support Fund at Bishop’s University

The Vice-Principal Academic and Research oversees the Research Support Fund, which is administered by the Research Office and the Business Office.

The Research Support Fund (RSF) provides Bishop’s university with the resources to sustain the daily research activities of their students and faculty. More specifically, the annual RSF funding has enabled Bishop’s University to cover new expenditures, maintain the current level of services to the institutional research environment, develop research administration capability, and appropriately maintain research facilities. Indeed, RSF funding is provided to assist with indirect costs in 6 major categories:

  • Research Facilities; 
  • Research Resources; 
  • Management and administration of an Institution’s research enterprise; 
  • Regulatory requirements and accreditation;
  • Intellectual Property, and
  • Research Security.

Below are our current and past RSF allocations

The Research Support Fund (RSF) plays a crucial role in alleviating the financial burdens associated with the indirect costs of research for Canadian post-secondary institutions. By addressing hidden expenses, this program empowers researchers to focus their efforts on ground-breaking discoveries and academic excellence.

Unforeseen costs, salaries for administrative support staff and other indirect expenses, present a substantial challenge for Canadian institutions. Originally introduced as the Indirect Costs Program in 2003 by the Government of Canada, it is now known as the Research Support Fund, this permanent initiative provides annual grants to universities and colleges, assisting in covering a portion of their indirect research expenses.

Whether applied to the upkeep of libraries, laboratories, or research networking spaces, the program aims to ensure that Canadian research institutions can operate at the forefront of innovation.

This strategic investment aligns with the federal government’s ongoing support for research projects through three granting agencies:

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC),  
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC),  
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).  

The RSF reinforces these research endeavors, guaranteeing that federally funded projects are conducted in state-of-the-art facilities with optimal equipment and administrative backing.

What Cost 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. 


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

Allocation of the Research Support Fund between categories: