2020 / 2021 Government of Canada 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 on the website.

Affiliated Organizations

UNBC is affiliated with the British Columbia Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN).

UNBC's Performance Indicators and Target Outcomes

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Research Facilities
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $92,301 invested in an Enhanced Forestry Laboratory Technician's compensation and in EFL operating costs
Performance Objective: Maintain access to EFL greenhouse pods
Performance Indicator: Number of greenhouse pods used fully or partially each month, totalled over the year
Target Outcome for 2020/21: Greenhouse pods have 48 pod-months of use
Reported Outcome for 2019/20: 48 pod-months of greenhouse pod use

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Research Resources
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $135,005 invested in access to online databases
Performance Objective: Maintain access to online databases
Performance Indicator: Number of times online databases accessed
Target Outcome for 2020/21: Online databases accessed over 174,000 times
Reported Outcome for 2019/20: Online databases accessed 174,689 times

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Management and Administration of Research
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $692,514 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 2020/21: Tri-Council grant applications processed exceeds 50
Reported Outcome for 2019/20: 66 Tri-Council grant applications processed

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $176,602 invested in Northern Health Sciences Research Facility operating expenses. RSF was also used to support the salary of a Research Ethics Officer
Performance Objective: Maintain good standing with the Canadian Council on Animal Care
Performance Indicator: Canadian Council on Animal Care assessment and certification process
Target Outcome for 2020/21: Maintain Good standing
Reported Outcome for 2019/20: Good standing maintained

Eligible Program Expenditure Category:  Intellectual Property
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $51,176 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/or the number of new partnerships. Also, the number of IP disclosures and/or patent filings
Target Outcome for 2020/21: Conduct 3 University partnership* workshops; File 1 patent
Reported Outcome for 2019/20: 4 University partnership* workshops conducted; 2 patents filed
*Partnerships include industry, government, community and/or academic partners

BC AHSN Performance Indicators and Target Outcomes

Eligible Program Expenditure Category: Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $400,452 invested in the launch of Research Ethics BC (REBC) and its Provincial Research Ethics Platform (PREP).
Performance Objective: To improve researcher competitiveness by streamlining multijurisdictional research ethics application/review processes between BC’s institutions.
Performance Indicator: Number of multijurisdictional ethics applications registered in the PREP system and the number of new member institutions joining REBC.
Target Outcome for 2020/21:

  1. Introduce REBC and the PREP platform to stakeholders across BC.

  2. Increase the number of member institutions by 30%.

  3. Implement a model for harmonized clinical trials review.

Reported Outcome for 2019/20:

  1. In 2019/20, there were 355 new harmonized studies added to PREP, a 28% increase over the previous year. There was also an increase in the number of active harmonized studies in PREP from 674 to 850, an increase of 26% from the previous year. There was a 46% increase in harmonized studies from non-UBC affiliated institutions, such as the regional health authorities.

  2. The original network of Research Ethics Boards (REBs) has grown by 58% from the original 12 institutions to include 19 of the approximate 24 REBs in the province. The most recent additions to the network include BCIT, First Nations Health Authority, Langara College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Camosun College. In 2019/20, the increase in institutions was 46% over the previous year.

  3. A model for harmonized clinical trials was launched in 2019, however, the analysis of the pilot was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis and is planned for summer 2021. In addition to the harmonized review model for clinical trials, REBC also launched a model whereby BC Cancer would be responsible for the review of all cancer studies, not requiring additional ethical review if they involved other institutions in BC, such as health authorities.

Eligible Program Expenditure Category: Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $495,885 invested in personnel and operating costs of Clinical Trials BC (CTBC).
Performance Objectives:

  1. Embed a Quality Management System Framework (QMS) at clinical research sites across the province in partnership with research intensive universities and health authorities.

  2. Provide investigator and clinical research staff training for good clinical research practice, regulatory compliance and participant engagement.

  3. Provide consultation to BC researchers in preparation for, during and post regulatory inspections.

Performance Indicator:

  1. Number of BC institutions with a QMS framework for clinical trials.

  2. Number of clinical research skills development sessions delivered to BC researchers.

  3. Number of formal regulatory consultations provided to BC clinical research teams.

Target Outcome for 2020/21:

  1. A minimum of 3 institutions have implemented a QMS framework.

  2. A minimum of 30 skills development sessions delivered.

  3. A minimum of 20 formal regulatory consultations provided.

Reported Outcome for 2019/20:

  1. 7 provincial clinical research organizations have or are in the process of implementing a QMS framework with BC AHSN support.

  2. 31 clinical research skills development training sessions were delivered in person or virtually across the province. This included hosting a provincial N2 meeting in Vancouver with 96 attendees and sessions delivered by Health Canada.

  3. 27 formal regulatory consultations were provided to BC clinical research teams in addition to providing an average of 3 informal consultations per week.

Eligible Program Expenditure Category: Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $221,527 invested in personnel and operating costs of Clinical Trials BC (CTBC) to implement common Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS) software across BC research institutions.
Performance Objective: Implement a single software platform CTMS for the management of clinical trials research to be accessible by all researchers at participating institutions across BC
Performance Indicator:
  1. Number of BC instituions and number of sites participating in common CTMS platform.

  2. Number of active clinical trials registered on the CTMS system.

Target Outcome for 2020/21:
  1. At least 5 institutions and 15 research sites have trials being actively managed in the CTMS

  2. Number of active clinical trials registered in the CTMS will set a benchmark for future reporting.

Reported Outcome for 2019/20:

This year's activities focused on obtaining provincial level approvals for (a) the software and system privacy assessment and (b) the security and threat assessment of the cloud-based software. In addition, software licenses and participation agreements were negotiated to support overall program development, current state analyses of clinical trial workflows, future business readiness and implementation/change management planning. A total of 6 research institutions that encompass 15 research sites and 77 investigators were identified for inclusion in Stage 1 roll-out planned for October 2020.

No clinical trials are registered in the CTMS - roll-out and registrations are scheduled for October 2020.

Eligible Program Expenditure Category: Management and Administration of Research
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $488,594 invested in administrative personnel and operating costs to support research activities and training of research personnel.
Performance Objective: Manage an increasing volume of research activity by providing finance, human resource, data and project management guidance to research initiatives and research personnel.
Performance Indicator: Number of major research personnel supported.
Target Outcome for 2020/21: Manage overall growth in research activity. Manage grants in accordance with funder guidelines.
Reported Outcome for 2019/20: Research teams and regulatory units supported = 3; Number of research or regulatory personnel increased by 36%; Managed grant funding in compliance with Tri-Agency and other funder financial policies and guidelines including matching funds requirements.

Eligible Program Expenditure Category: Research Facilities
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) for 2019/20: $126,208 invested in renovations and rental of non-owned research and administrative space.
Performance Objective: Accommodate researchers and administrative support personnel.
Performance Indicator: Maintain adequate and functional administrative space to support researchers and support personnel.
Target Outcome for 2020/21: Accommodate a 10% growth in number of research and support personnel.
Reported Outcome 2019/20: The overall number of research and support personnel grew by 41%; Expanded space available to the growing research, regulatory an support units.

Eligible Program Expenditure Category: Research Resources
Output (Investment of RSF grant funds) in 2019/20: $14,787 invested in maintaining or upgrading technology devices available to researchers and support personnel.
Performance Objective: Maintain information technology equipment functionality.
Performance Indicator: Number of devices added or upgraded.
Target Outcome for 2020/21: Add 2 devices and upgrade server.
Reported Outcome for 2019/20: Upgraded major Firewall device and server security software that protects the data of researchers, regulatory and support personnel.


UNBC's 2020/21 Research Support Fund Expenditures ($3.210 Million)

The pie chart below represents how the actual amounts will be allocated; this is followed by a summary report that includes the major expenses covered.

RSF Image 2020-21

Research Facilities: $0.105 Million  |  3% 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 and the operating costs for a communal research laboratory (the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory).

Research Resources: $0.369 Million  |  12% 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) the cost of access to online databases (23% of total access cost);

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

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

Management and Administration of Research:  $0.522 Million  |  16% 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 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 facilitate 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 the 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) The 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:  $0.286 Million  |  9% of Total Grant

a) 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).

b) The animal care and use 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:  $0.044 Million  | 1% of Total Grant

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

Affiliated Institutions:  $1.885 Million | 59% of Total Grant

Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN)

a) Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation $1.239 Million 65% of Total Grant

The RSF will support the operations of the newly formed Research Ethics initiative aiming to harmonize multi-centre Ethics processes across Research institutions across BC. The RSF will also support the operations and training activities of the newly formed Clinical Trails BC initiative aiming to coordinate clinical research across BC. The RSF will further support provincial partners to implement a province-wide common software system to enhance management of clinical research infrastructure throughout BC.

b) Management and Administration of Research $0.337 Million 18% of Total Grant

The RSF will support administrative infrastructure and human resources

c) Research Facilities $0.109 Million 6% of Total Grant

The RSF will provide resources for research facilities space rental and renovations as well as for the upgrade and maintenance of equipment.

d) Research Resources $0.200 Million 11% of Total Grant

The RSF will provide information technology support.

Impacts of the Research Support Fund Grant at UNBC

UNBC is extremely supportive of the Research Support Fund 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 Research Support Fund. The University is particularly grateful for the sliding funding scale adopted by the Research Support Fund, 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 Research Support Fund 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 Research Support Fund 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 Research Support Fund 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 Research Support Fund. 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 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 Support Fund, in conjunction with the institution’s other funding partners. In 2017/18 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 Research Support Fund 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. The 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 2020/21.

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 bi-annual This is UNBC Magazine.

In addition, UNBC’s Vice President Research will continue to engage with the UNBC community and we will ensure that the assistance provided to the institution by the Research Support Fund is highlighted prominently at these engagement opportunities. 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.