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Research Support Fund

The federal Research Support Fund assists Canadian post-secondary institutions with the costs associated with managing their research enterprise, helping them to maintain a world-class research environment.

About the Research Support Fund (RSF)

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

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.
[McMaster's annual reports under the Indirect Costs Program for 2012, 2013 and 2014 can be found here.]

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. The RSF currently has a budget of $342 million and serves 126 post-secondary institutions across the country.

Grants can be used to:

  • maintain modern labs and equipment;
  • provide access to up-to-date knowledge resources;
  • provide research management and administrative support;
  • meet regulatory and ethical standards; or
  • transfer knowledge from academia to the private, public and not-for-profit sectors

How is this fund used at McMaster? 

Calculation of grant

In 2014/15 McMaster University received $12,463,748 from the Federal Indirect Costs of Research (FICR) Program (this was the last year of the Indirect Costs Program, and was replaced by the Research Support Fund).

Most post-secondary Institutions in Canada receive a share of the pool of funds based on their individual Institution’s three year average of spent Tri-Council funding. The 2014/15 grant was calculated using data from 2012/13, 2011/12 and 2010/11. As can be seen, there is quite a lag between the receipt of the indirect cost grant and the spending of project funds.

The total pool was $341M in 2014/15 and provided indirect costs at a rate of roughly 19.833% of most Tri-Council projects (some specific programs do not pay indirect costs and institutions are made aware if this at the application stage).

McMaster received
3.65% of the pool. The FICR program supports the costs of heat, hydro, research accountants, assistance with research applications, the health physics office, support for central facilities such as the central animal facilities, library acquisitions, computing services and such. Eligible and ineligible expenditures can be found here

McMaster's Use of the Research Support Fund

In an attempt to ensure that "researchers, students, communities and elected officials" are aware of this program and know how these funds are used by their respective Institutions, we have been asked to post this report on our website annually. The federal government requests that we report the use of funds by five categories, which are: Facilities; Resources; Management and Administration;Regulatory Requirements and Intellectual Property.

Facilities expenditures include the cost of renovating labs, salaries for technicians and the utility costs for research labs. Research Resources include the cost of library acquisitions, operating costs for non-facility areas, insurance on research vehicles, etc. Management and Administrative costs include expenses to provide researchers with grant writing assistance, research accounting services, promotional expenses, audit costs, etc. Regulatory requirements include the costs of upgrades and upkeep of animal facilities, the management of ethics boards, the Health Physics office and other compliance type offices. Intellectual property expenses include the cost of tech-transfer offices and the support of technology licensing.

Below is a pie chart which illustrates how the funds were used in 2013/14 at McMaster University. The 2014/15 usage will be available July 1, 2015.

Pie chart describing the use of FICR funds in 2013/2014

While the allocated amount of FICR funds does not cover the full indirect costs of research, the FICR funds did, however, provide for some laboratory renovations, support for grant applications, research accounting, the purchase of library resources, support for the health physics office and the high performance computing office as well as local administrative and facilities support.

Distribution of FICR funds

The FICR Program began in 2003 at which time the pool totaled $225m. Under the current budget model the FICR Program funds are distributed among McMaster's six Faculties (Health Sciences, Science, Social Sciences, Business, Humanities, Engineering). Each Faculty uses these resources to provide for step-down expenses such as hydro, research administration etc.

The FICR funds were distributed as follows:  

 Distribution of Funds 2014_2015

List of Affiliates


Below is a list of the institutions that McMaster has current affiliation agreements with:

Hamilton Health Sciences (Hamilton, ON)
St. Joseph's Hospital (Hamilton, ON)
Juravinski Cancer Centre (Hamilton, ON)
Hamilton Civic Hospital (Hamilton, ON)
Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre (Hamilton, ON)
Hamilton General Hospital (Hamilton, ON)
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (Toronto, ON)
Institute for Work & Health (Toronto, ON)
Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre (Hamilton, ON) (CEBF)
St Peter’s Hospital (Hamilton, ON)