Research Support Fund & Incremental Project Grants


The Research Support Fund  assists Canadian postsecondary institutions and their affiliated research hospitals and institutes with the expenses associated with managing the research enterprise and helping to maintain a world-class research environment.

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 (NSERC)  and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) . It is administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, which is housed within SSHRC.

"Direct" costs of research normally comprise all of the budgeted expenditures for carrying out a specific research project at the University or affiliated organizations. These direct costs can be directly assigned to research projects relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy.

"Indirect" costs are real dollars spent by the University and affiliated organizations to support research activities. Although it can be difficult to assign these costs to specific projects, they represent necessary provisions for the conduct of research including items such as utilities, building costs, research contract/applications support, human resources, research accounting, library costs and central computing costs.

Introduced in 2018-19, the Incremental Project Grants (IPG) provides further support for the indirect costs of research. Eligible universities are those receiving more than $7M in direct tri-agency research funding. The IPG provides universities with additional support for projects that focus on the following priority areas:

  • innovation and commercialization activities
  • facilities renewal, including deferred maintenance
  • information resources, including digital resources, open access and databases
  • equity, diversity and faculty renewal (in the context of equity, diversity, and inclusion)

In 2022-23, Research Security funding was introduced to further support the activities related to the indirect costs of research security and to support the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships. Eligible institutions are those receiving $2 million or more in eligible RSF direct research funding. 

Queen’s University distributes the RSF grant in two broad steps. The first is to allocate appropriate amounts to its Affiliates, which include Kingston Health Sciences Centre, Providence Care Centre, and the Canadian Microelectronics Corporation. The second step is to allocate the remainder to each of its Faculties in a manner that reflects their relative contribution to the total grant received. For the IPG  component, the university identifies a number of projects in the priority areas and allocates funding accordingly. In most cases, additional funds are provided from internal sources or partner programs.

The funds provided are to assist with expenses in five major categories: Facility, Management & Administration, Resources, Regulatory Requirements, and Intellectual Property. RSF grants are allocated annually based on a 3-year rolling average of an institution's Tri-Agency revenue.

Examples of how the funds have been used:

The Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s has over 17,000 sq. m. of research space. Each year Research Support Fund funding helps support operating costs for this space at an approximate cost per year of $2.5M. In the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science the funds have previously been used to replace asbestos fume hoods and technical support staff for the operation of laboratories. Funds have also been used to upgrade security systems access to a few specialized sites.

The Research Support Fund grant provides significant funding to support the operations of Queen’s Library, the acquisition of publications and subscriptions to new and existing databases.

In the area of Management & Administration the university employees a significant number of staff to assist researchers in all parts of the research process; from writing grants, recruiting post-docs and graduate students, ordering supplies, and project management. Within the university’s central administration there are over 35 full-time staff supporting research administration services.

Funds are used to cover the costs of staff associated with the operation of the two research ethics boards and to provide for equipment such as dosimetry radiation badges used in laboratories specializing in radiology research. Funds also support the costs of maintenance for regulated equipment (overhead cranes & lifting device inspections, etc.), facility inspections & health & safety training.

Funds from the Research Support Fund are used to support the team of lawyers that negotiates research contracts with external organizations. Funds are also used to support staff involved in the capture of intellectual property through invention disclosures and the management of technology transfer through patent filing and licensing.

The Research Support Fund grant permits grant-holding institutions to partially meet the compliance expectations of the various funders (e.g., human ethics, animal care, biohazards, and controlled goods), as well as financial and audit requirements. The Research Support Fund grant reduces the amount Queen’s University must draw from critical operating funds, which are required to continue to offer high-quality teaching and research environments.

For an example of how the Research Support Fund makes an impact at Queen's, visit practice makes perfect: Research runs smoothly thanks to experienced facilitators.