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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. This program is helping McMaster maintain its 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, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 can be found here.]

The Research Support Fund Outcomes Report 2015-2016 Transition Version 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 $369 million and serves 133 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 2017/18 McMaster University received $14,047,002 from the federal Research Support Fund (RSF). 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 2017/18 grant was calculated using data from 2015/16, 2014/15 and 2013/14.

The total pool was $369,343,339 in 2017/18 and provided indirect costs at a rate of 20.98% of most Tri-Council projects (some specific programs do not pay research support funds and institutions are made aware of this at the application stage).

McMaster received 3.80% of the pool. The RSF 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 etc. Eligible and ineligible expenditures can be found here: RSF Eligible and Ineligible Expenses.

McMaster's Use of the Research Support Fund


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.

Distribution of RSF funds

Under the current budget model the funds are distributed among McMaster's six Faculties: Health Sciences, Science, Social Sciences, Business, Humanities and Engineering; as well as affiliated hospitals. Each Faculty uses these resources to provide for step-down expenses such as hydro, research administration etc.

Below, you will see a graph that shows how the funds were expended by the reporting categories of Research Facilities, Research Resources, Management and Administration, Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation and Intellectual Property.