Research Support Fund

The Research Support Fund (RSF) is a federal government program that provides universities with an annual grant to help pay for the indirect costs of research. 

What are the Indirect Costs of Research?

The indirect costs of research (often called overhead) are defined as the hidden, but very real costs that occur when universities and colleges undertake research.  These costs can’t be attributed to any one research project, and include costs such as utilities; operating and maintenance costs; IT, technical, laboratory and library support; animal care and ethics support; and costs associated with administrative support of research (HR, financial services, contract and grant support services).  

Like other institutions, Acadia incurs indirect costs administering our Tri-Council funded research.  These expenditures include costs associated with:

  • Meeting our Regulatory Requirements (Research Ethics Board, Animal Care Facility, Acadia Radiation Safety Committee, and the Acadia Bio-Hazards Committee);  
  • Purchasing electronic journals for our Library;
  • Supporting the work of the Office of Industry & Community Engagement, including our incubator space (Rural Innovation Centre); and
  • Supporting Acadia’s overall research enterprise.

Indirect costs pose a significant financial challenge to Canadian institutions. The federal Research Support Fund (formerly known as the Indirect Costs Program) assists eligible postsecondary institutions to support their research programs, by defraying a portion of the costs associated with managing the research funded by the Tri-Council Funding agencies: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Description of the Research Support Fund

The Government of Canada introduced the Indirect Costs Program in 2003. Renamed in 2015 as the Research Support Fund (RSF), this permanent program provides Canadian universities and colleges with an annual grant to help pay for a portion of their indirect costs of research. Grants are based on the funding received by the University’s researchers from the three granting agencies in the three most recent years for which data is available. Grants are awarded for one year only, and cover a portion of the indirect costs of research incurred by the institution that year. Institutions must re-apply each year to continue receiving funds.

RSF grants must add to, and not displace, any research support funds that postsecondary institutions have received from the provincial government, private sector or other federal sources.  The grant may be used to cover new expenditures as well as to maintain the current level of services to and support of an institution's research environment, and to generate improvements, innovations and efficiencies in its management.

Institutions have flexibility in deciding how to use their RSF grants, provided that the funds are used for the payment of current expenditures attributed to federally-sponsored research that fall within the following five categories:

  • Research facilities,
  • Research resources;
  • Management and administration of an institution's research enterprise;
  • Regulatory requirements and accreditation; and
  • Intellectual property.

For more details on the Research Support Fund, click here.

Accountability & Public Acknowledgement Requirements

Institutions must meet the RSF program’s accountability and public acknowledgement requirements to be eligible/stay eligible for the program. For Acadia, these requirements are:

  • Identifying and making public on our website, information on indirect costs, on the Research Support Fund, and on Acadia’s allocations under this program;
  • Identifying and making public our institutional performance objectives (with corresponding indicators and outcomes) for our grant each year;
  • Developing and implementing an RSF communications strategy;
  • Publicly reporting on our website on outcomes achieved annually; and
  • Submitting an annual Outcomes Report.
How Acadia uses its RSF

The RSF has played a critical role in supporting Acadia’s research enterprise . These expenditures have been instrumental in supporting our research staff and facilities and thus our research capacity at Acadia University. The funding has allowed Acadia to continue to build on its research programs by creating additional research space, providing technical support and providing equipment upgrades and maintenance to adequately operate and maintain research facilities.

In general, Acadia has a strong record of directing a high proportion of its grants to the facilities, resources, regulatory requirements and intellectual property categories.  This practice originated with a 5-Year Strategy that was developed in 2004 to specifically ensure that services and facilities provided by the University were responsive to researchers’ needs. 

Acadia’s past allocations of RSF are as follows:

14-15:               $658,465 

15-16:               $668,657 

16-17:               $679,999 

17-18:               $616,098 

18-19:               $616,098 

19-20:               $556,765 

In 2020-21, Acadia is receiving $563,692 through the Research Support Fund. Funding was allocated as follows:

Management and Administration   $200,000 (35.5%)

Resources (Library)   $220,000 (39%)

Facilities   $28,692 (5.1%)

Intellectual Property   $113,000 (20%)

Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation   $2000 (.4%)


2020-21 Institutional Performance Objectives, Performance Indicators, and Target Outcomes
For 2020-21, Acadia University is expecting to receive $563,692. We have established the following Performance Metrics:
Eligible Category   Institutional Performance Objective   Indicator     Output     Outcomes

Management and Administration  


To continue to offer support for grant writing (GW)  


Participation in GW sessions; grant writing support provided  


Provide grant writing workshops for Tri-Council programs and general grant writing strategies

    To improve internal grants/awards administrative processes   Use of and building further capacity in (TD) contract management system   Maintain reporting using (TD) system. Regular meetings in-house, with Financial Services, and meetings as needed with Technology Services to revise and continue to improve the efficiency of TD System, and associated reporting
Research Resources   To maintain library resources for researchers   Number of downloads of electronic journals   Number of downloads of electronic journals in 2020-21
Research Facilities   To operate & maintain university research facilities and research stations   Numbers of person days of research and/or numbers of researchers/HQP utilizing facilities and/or # of related publications   Numbers of person days of research and/or numbers of researchers/HQP utilizing facilities and or # of related publications in 2020-2021
Intellectual Property   Maintain number of R&D agreements and engagement with industry   Number of R&D contracts and/or industry engagement activities   Maintain or grow number of R&D contracts and/or industry engagement activities in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20
    Maintain the number of university technologies
and IP (including copyright) transferred to industry/spin-out companies and
other organizations.
  Number of executed agreements processed   Maintain number of License, Assignment & MT Agreements processed in 2020-21, as in 2019-2020



Reported Progress on Objectives
Affiliated Institutions
  • Research 1
  • Research 2
  • Research 3
  • Research 4
  • Research 5
  • Research 6
  • Research 7

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Division of Research & Graduate Studies
214 Horton Hall
18 University Avenue
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6