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 and Innovation; 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.
UNBC is affiliated with Michael Smith Health Research BC (MSHRBC) and the Northern Health Authority (NHA).
Incremental Project Grants
The Incremental Project Grants (IPG) funding opportunity is a new stream of the Research Support Fund (RSF), in addition to the RSF grant, that provides further support for the indirect costs of research.
The IPG will provide eligible institutions with additional support for projects that focus on a set of priorities that cut across the RSF's five existing categories of eligible expenses. The initial four IPG priority areas are:
- Innovation and commercialization activities;
- facilities renewal, including deferred maintenance;
- information resources, including digital resources, open access and databases; and
- equity, diversity and faculty renewal (in the context of equity, diversity and inclusion).
Further information on the Incremental Project Grants is available on the website.
Introduced in 2022, Research Security is categorized as a fifth priority area of the IPG. Research Security funding will help build capacity within postsecondary institutions to identify, assess and mitigate the potential risks to research security.
Further information on Research Security is available on the website.
Current Research Support Fund Allocation and Anticipated Spending
UNBC's 2023/24 Research Support Fund Notional Allocation is $2.344 Million. UNBC expects to allocate its RSF grant across the expenditure categories as follows:
Incremental Project Grant
UNBC did not receive an IPG Notional Allocation in 2023/24.
UNBC's 2023/24 Research Security Notional Allocation is $47,026.
RSF and IPG Objectives, Indicators and Targeted Outcomes
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 2022/23 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.
UNBC’s Communications and Marketing Department will work with the Office of Research and Innovation to issue news releases regarding significant outcomes resulting from Tri-Council-funded research projects during 2023/24.
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 and Innovation 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.