Government of Canada Research Support Fund

2017 / 2018 Research Support Fund

Indirect Costs of Research

The indirect costs of research, also known as overhead costs, are the operating expenditures that UNBC incurs to undertake its research mandate; they do not include expenses which are directly associated with the research project (e.g., researcher salaries, researcher travel expenses, student stipends, research materials, etc.). These indirect costs include, but are not limited to, provision of space including the costs of maintenance and utilities, maintenance and repair of research equipment, computing resources, library resources, insurance, technical support for communal equipment and facility operation, and services provided by UNBC staff members—for example, through the Facilities Department; Finance Department; Geoffrey R. Weller Library; Human Resources Department; Information Technology Services; Office of Research; Purchasing, Contracts and Risk Management; and Security Office. The federal Research Support Fund provides overhead funding for research grants received from the Tri-Councils: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Government of Canada Research Support Fund

The Government of Canada generously helps to cover the indirect costs of research at UNBC through the Research Support Fund, helping the institution maintain a leading-edge research environment. Resources from the Research Support Fund aid the institution in covering costs associated with:

  • Maintaining research facilities;
  • Providing research resources;
  • Managing and administering research activities;
  • Meeting regulatory requirements and maintaining necessary accreditations; and
  • Commercializing intellectual property.

Further information on the Research Support Fund is available at:

Affiliated Organizations

UNBC is affiliated with the British Columbia Academic Health Science Network Society.

UNBC's Performance Indicators and Target Outcomes

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Research Facilities
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2016/17: $79,019 invested in an Enhanced Forestry Laboratory Technician's compensation
Performance Objective: Maintain access to EFL greenhouse pods
Performance Indicator: Number of greenhouse pods used fully or partially each month, totaled over the year
Target Outcome for 2016/17: Establish baseline number for comparison in future years
Reported Outcome for 2016/17: Greenhouse pods had 47 pod-months of use

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Research Resources
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2016/17: $78,454 invested in access to online databases
Performance Objective: Maintain access to online databases
Performance Indicator: Number of times online databases accessed
Target Outcome for 2016/17: Establish baseline number for comparison in future years
Reported Outcome for 2016/17: Online databases accessed 174,689 times

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Management and Administration of Research
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2016/17: $145,059 invested in compensation of Grant Facilitators
Performance Objective: Continue processing of grant applications
Performance Indicator: Number of Tri-Council grant applications processed
Target Outcome for 2016/17: Establish baseline number for comparison in future years
Reported Outcome for 2016/17: Tri-Council grant applications processed = 42

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2016/17: $100,000 invested in Northern Health Sciences Research Facility operating expenses
Performance Objective: Maintain good standing with Canadian Council on Animal Care
Performance Indicator: Canadian Council on Animal Care assessment and certification process
Target Outcome for 2016/17: Good standing maintained
Reported Outcome for 2016/17: Target met: Good standing maintained

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Intellectual Property
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2016/17: $33,950 invested in Partnerships and Innovation Office operating expenses
Performance Objective: Continue to host partnership* workshops and establish new partnerships
Performance Indicator: Number of partnership* workshops hosted and number of new partnerships
Target Outcome for 2016/17: Establish baseline number for comparison in future years
Reported Outcome for 2016/17: University partnership* workshops conducted = 4; New partnerships established = 20

*Partnerships include industry, community and/or academic partners

UNBC's 2017/18 Indirect Costs Program Grant Projected Allocations ($1,040,648)

The pie chart below represents the projected amounts that will be allocated to each of the five categories over the next year within our institution.

Research Facilities: $0.062 Million  |  5.9% of Total Grant

a) Operating Costs

i) The RSF grant will be used effectively to maintain the research facilities on campus, which includes compensation for technical staff people and the operating costs for a communal research laboratory (the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory).

Research Resources : $0.185 Million  |  17.8% of Total Grant

a) Geoffrey R. Weller Library

i) The RSF will support the Geoffrey R. Weller Library in three ways:

1) compensation for a Northern BC Archives staff member;

2) cost of access to online databases (23% of total access cost);

3) cost of access to high-speed optical internet (30% of total access cost).

Without this RSF support, researchers at UNBC will not be able to access information they need to pursue their research questions.

Management and Administration of Research:  $0.605 Million  |  58.1% of Total Grant

a) Institutional support for the completion of grant and award applications / research proposals

i) RSF funds will cover the various research services support staff, which includes compensation for the Assistant Director of Research, three grant facilitators, one human resources administrator, one payroll officer, two research accounting personnel, one research personnel coordinator, and one research contracts staff member;

ii) The RSF will support Research Staff who enable and encourage the advancement of research at UNBC. These staff members provide faculty members with a go-to person to assist with proposal writing, literature searches, and sourcing grant opportunities. The RSF investments greatly increase the awareness of the different modes of research and facilitated inter- and cross- disciplinary research connections as well as funding opportunities. Research Facilitators provide faculty communication points and enhanced support resources to assist the Office of Research in reaching UNBC’s strategic research goals;

b) Training of faculty and research personnel

i) The collective research team will receive support to attend Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) conferences. These conferences are vital to the research support staff as they enable the staff members to keep apprised of changes and updates, and to receive relevant training for professional development. This in turn results in a greater level of support provided to the UNBC research community;

c) Acquisition, maintenance and/or upgrade of information systems to track grant applications, certifications and awards

i) Annual costs associated with the Process Pathways Romeo research grant tracking software will be covered by the Research Support Fund.

Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation:  $0.136 Million  |  13% of Total Grant

The RSF enables UNBC to meet regulatory and accreditation requirements, which includes compensation for administrative support personnel for the Research Ethics Board (1.0 FTE), Risk and Safety staff member, and partial funding of the operating cost of a communal research laboratory (Northern Health Sciences Research Facility).

a) The animal care committee at UNBC will receive support from the RSF for the animal care functions in the following ways: a student will be hired on a part-time basis to help with animal services and the animal facility; and the University veterinarian will be paid a fee-for-service that included animal care committee involvement, animal facility visits, and veterinary care services.

Intellectual Property:  $0.054 Million  | 5% of Total Grant

a) RSF will support the intellectual property (IP) management functions at UNBC, including the compensation and operating costs of the Partnerships and Innovation Office. The RSF will also support the salary to administer research agreements and contracts, including contribution agreements, and memorandums of understanding with public, private and community partners.

Im​pacts of the Research Support Fund Grant at UNBC

UNBC is extremely supportive of the Indirect Costs Program because it has played a major role in the rapid expansion of research at the institution. It can be stated unequivocally that this growth would not have occurred with the same vigour or outcomes without the Indirect Costs Program. The University is particularly grateful for the sliding funding scale adopted by the Indirect Costs Program, which results in smaller institutions receiving a higher overhead rate on their Tri-Council awards than larger institutions, as it partially compensates universities such as UNBC for their higher operating costs. UNBC expects to increasingly benefit from the Indirect Costs Program over the coming years as faculty members’ research programs mature, and the number and value of their Tri-Council awards increase accordingly.

Two concrete examples of benefits that accrued to UNBC recently from the Indirect Costs Program are described in the following paragraphs:

Due to the Program, UNBC was able to continue re-directing some institutional funding to an Undergraduate Research Experience program, which provided $1500 to each of 20 students who chose to participate in a research project led by a faculty member. Due to the popularity of the program, only a fraction of the students who applied could be accepted. Providing funding for undergraduate research—both to enrich students’ educational experience and to enhance their ability to embark on a research career—was a long-term goal of the institution that was first realized in 2011/12. UNBC is grateful to the Indirect Costs Program for providing funding that has enabled the continuation of the Undergraduate Research Experience program.

The operating costs for UNBC’s I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory were covered by the Indirect Costs Program. This building has been home to a number of research projects over the years, including projects focused on the mountain pine beetle and bioenergy. Given that UNBC is located in the heart of one of the most forestry-intensive regions in Canada, using the institution’s Research Support Fund grant to enable research in forestry-related disciplines is appropriate.


UNBC scholars—both students and faculty members—have been able to undertake important research that has advanced the state of knowledge in a variety of fields due to financial support from the Indirect Costs Program, in conjunction with the institution’s other funding partners. In 2015/16 this funding helped sustain the employment of crucial research-support personnel and the operations of key research facilities, and it allowed the institution to re-direct some money to assist with the direct costs of research. As a result, the Indirect Costs Program has made a lasting contribution to the social and economic development of Northern British Columbia, the province, and the country. UNBC continues to use the Research Support Fund to assist its researchers, facilities, and the general research function. Funding enabled research to take place with well-maintained state-of-the-art equipment in highly functioning laboratories and facilities, while contributing to the attraction and retention of researchers and the training of future highly qualified personnel (HQP). The Research Support Fund allowed UNBC to redirect funds otherwise used to cover indirect research expenses to other institutional initiatives and needs. The Research Support Fund has been of great benefit to UNBC.

Communications Strategy

UNBC’s Communications Department will work with the Office of Research to issue news releases regarding significant outcomes resulting from Tri-Council-funded research projects during 2017/18.

These news releases will include a description of the Tri-Council funding source, as well as a description of the funding received from the Research Support Fund to cover the indirect costs associated with the research. The stories may also be featured prominently on the UNBC website home page, and promoted through the institution's social media channels. Some stories may also be featured in UNBC's twice-annual Update magazine.

In addition, UNBC’s Vice President Research and Graduate Programs has recently initiated regular research Town Hall meetings with the UNBC community; we will ensure that the assistance provided to the institution by the Research Support Fund is highlighted prominently at these Town Halls. The UNBC Office of Research also releases a Research Annual Report. We will ensure that the assistance provided to the institution by the Research Support Fund is highlighted prominently in the Research Annual Report.