Eligible and ineligible indirect cost expenditures

Five expenditure categories

Institutions have flexibility in deciding how to use their grant, provided that the funds are used for the payment of current expenditures of indirect costs attributed to federally sponsored research that falls within the following five categories:

  1. research facilities
  2. research resources
  3. management and administration of the institution's research enterprise
  4. regulatory requirements and accreditation
  5. intellectual property and knowledge mobilization

The expenditures must always adhere to the general principles of the Research Support Fund (RSF) program.


1. Research facilities

Eligible expenses

Renovation and maintenance of research facilities include:

  • research facilities;
  • libraries, laboratories, animal holding facilities (including common use animal cages), research networking spaces, offices of research and finance administration, and offices of social sciences and humanities researchers; and
  • the purchase and/or refurbishing of furniture for research facilities.

Note: Do not include expenditures to meet regulatory requirements in this category.

Upgrades and maintenance (not the purchase) of research equipment and other devices:

  • An "upgrade" is defined as replacing a part to make a piece of equipment more usable. "Maintenance" (and/or "maintenance contracts") is defined as the upkeep or repair of equipment to improve or preserve efficiency.
  • Investments in air and water quality, or power upgrades (e.g., air conditioners, water purifiers, ventilation systems), freezers for sample retention, biosafety cabinets to meet regulatory requirements, are considered upgrades/maintenance if these pieces of equipment support the research infrastructure’s overall operation.

Note: Do not include the purchase of computer hardware and software, or software licences, in this category. (See the Research resources and/or Management and administration of the institution’s research enterprise categories.)

Operating costs include:

  • custodial, security, maintenance, utilities, and leasing costs; and costs for capital planning associated with research spaces and research equipment, and insurance on research spaces; and
  • the purchase of materials and supplies used in operating research equipment such as cryogens for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imagers, liquid nitrogen, argon, oxygen, microarrays, reagents, filters for flow chambers, O-rings, HP and HT greases and lubricants, batteries, and distilled water.

Technical support for laboratories, offices and other facilities includes:

  • technical support for the creation, development and/or maintenance of the institution’s website.

Note: Do not include technical support for animal care in this category. (Such technical support should be included under Regulatory requirements and accreditation.)

Ineligible expenses

  • purchase or construction of a building;
  • purchase of laboratory equipment, or any other equipment eligible for funding under other federal programs;
  • equipment and supplies directly related to research/activities for which grant funds were awarded;
  • equipment and supplies with benefits directly attributable a specific grant;
  • collateral on mortgage financing and payment of interest charges;
  • rental costs for space that is owned by the institution;
  • rental costs for space or equipment for research/activities for a specific program of research;
  • purchase or lease of land; and
  • purchase of furniture for the offices of researchers, grant recipients and members of their research team.


2. Research resources

Eligible expenses

Acquisition of library holdings includes:

  • journals, books, collections, periodicals and site licences (e.g., through the Canadian Research Knowledge Network).

Improved information and research security resources include:

  • databases, computer servers for multiple research projects, open access software,  telecommunications, information technology and research security tools (e.g., cyber security infrastructure); and
  • the purchase of computer hardware and software and software licences for libraries.

Note: Do not include technology to track grant applications and to provide financial services in this category. (This must be reported under Management and administration of the institution’s research enterprise.)

Library operating costs and administration include:

  • operating costs—custodial, security, maintenance, utilities, leasing and capital planning costs, and staff salaries; and
  • the purchase of research computers, filing cabinets, photocopiers, scanners and supplies for the exclusive use of libraries.

Insurance on research equipment and vehicles

Ineligible expenses

  • start-up grants or pilot studies;
  • grants for research/activities with benefits attributable to a specific research program;
  • hardware or software, including those applicable to research security, with benefits attributable to a specific research program or academic purposes; and
  • page charges for articles published, including costs associated with ensuring open access to the findings (e.g., costs of publishing in an open access journal or making a journal article open access).


3. Management and administration of the institution's research enterprise

Eligible expenses

Institutional support for the completion of grant and award applications/research proposals and in support of the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships includes:

  • salaries and benefits for staff who work on grant applications and research proposals (e.g., grant facilitators, award/prize facilitators, and administrative assistants) and the costs associated with grant-writing workshops; and
  • salaries and benefits for staff who assist and coordinate research security activities across the institution, or aid in identifying risks and risk mitigation measures across risk areas (physical, cyber, partnerships, intellectual property, people).

Acquisition, maintenance and/or upgrade of information technology and research security systems to track grant applications, certifications and awards includes:

  • computer hardware, research data applications, software and software licences for the office of research.

Training of faculty and research personnel includes:

  • costs associated with professional development training, such as the use of software (e.g., accounting, open access, library, and human resources software);
  • costs associated with providing training (e.g., workshops) associated with research security, as well as tools and resources such as software licenses used to conduct open source due diligence searches; and
  • costs associated with attending research administration-related conferences for professional development (e.g., CARA, CAUBO).

Note: Do not include training necessary to meet regulatory requirements in this category.

Human resources and payroll includes:

  • salaries and benefits for employees who support the federally funded research enterprise (research, research security, library, information technology, financial, human resources and purchasing offices); and
  • compensation for students who provide administrative services to the institution’s research enterprise. These employees must not already be funded through a direct research grant.

Financial and audit costs

Research planning and promotion, and public relations includes:

  • costs associated with corporate publications that highlight research (e.g., annual reports, newsletters, magazines, press releases);
  • costs associated with implementing research security commitments such as training, guidelines/procedures/process; staff salaries and benefits; collection of data related to research security (e.g., cyber security events); developing a research security action plan, environmental scans and system reviews; or developing communications plans to support research security; and
  • travel costs associated with research promotion and international collaborations (for the institution’s research enterprise as a whole).

Implementing equity, diversity and inclusion objectives includes:

  • costs associated with implementing the institution’s equity, diversity and inclusion commitments (e.g., training on equity, diversity and inclusion—including instructions on limiting the impact of unconscious bias—for recruitment, selection, and promotion and tenure committees);
  • the salaries of equity officers;
  • costs associated with collecting data on the participation of the four designated groups (women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and members of racialized groups);
  • costs for developing an equity and diversity action plan;
  • costs associated with conducting an environmental scan and an employment systems review; and
  • costs for developing an equity/diversity communications strategy.

Ineligible expenses

  • recruiting costs for faculty, including but not limited to advertising, airfare for candidates and relocation costs for new hires; and support for fellowships, scholarships and stipends;
  • course load reduction, release time allowances, research time stipends, salary research allowances and teaching releases; costs associated with collective agreements;
  • costs associated with the dissemination of findings/research results;
  • consultants who work on grant applications and research proposals; and
  • cost of alcoholic beverages.


4. Regulatory requirements and accreditation

Eligible expenses

  • creation and support of regulatory bodies:
    • costs associated with research ethics boards may include paying for a portion of a board member's salary and mileage costs associated with travelling to board meetings;
  • training of faculty and other research personnel in health and safety, animal care, ethics review, handling radiation and biohazards, and environmental assessments;
  • international accreditation costs related to research capacity;
  • upgrades and maintenance of research facilities and equipment to meet regulatory requirements;
  • technical support for animal care and for handling of dangerous substances and biohazards; and
  • the purchase of animals exclusively used for training purposes (not research).

Ineligible expenses

  • purchase of animals for research purposes; and
  • costs for safe disposal of waste from research/activities for which the funds were awarded.


5. Intellectual property and knowledge mobilization

Eligible expenses

  • creation, expansion or maintenance of a technology transfer office or similar function;
  • administration of invention patent applications;
  • support for technology licensing
    • Legal fees for technology licensing;
  • administration of agreements and partnerships with industry;
  • development of incubators;
  • support for the creation of spin-off companies;
  • outreach activities undertaken to transfer knowledge through venues not eligible for funding under other federal programs
    • costs associated with research conferences, symposiums or lectures are eligible if the general public is the target audience; and
  • marketing of teaching materials, scientific photo libraries, survey instruments, statistical packages, datasets and databases, software, computer models and other tools.


Incremental Project Grants

The incremental project grants must focus on a subset of activities within the five existing categories listed above. Specific projects should be linked to one or more of the eligible activity priority areas.


Research security

Research security funding is categorized as a fifth priority area of the IPGs. Research security must focus on a subset of activities within the five existing categories listed above and must be used only for the purpose for which the funding is intended and will require separate reporting on an annual basis.


Research support costs related to other federal funding programs

Institutions cannot use their grant to pay for the research support costs related to federal tri-agency research funding programs where the grant or award already includes funding to cover the indirect costs of the research (e.g., the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program, the Canada 150 Research Chairs Program, the College and Community Innovation Program, the New Frontiers of Research Fund, and the Canada First Research Excellence Fund). These programs allow institutions to use a reasonable portion of funding towards the research support costs of the research. Institutions cannot use their grant to pay for the research support costs related primarily to other federal agency funding programs (e.g., the CFI, Health Canada, etc.), or where the research support costs are primarily located outside of Canada.



The list of eligible and ineligible expenditures provided in this section is not exhaustive. Affiliated organizations are encouraged to communicate with their host institution (e.g., financial officer, research grants officer) should they have questions or need help interpreting program guidelines.

For more information, contact information@rsf-fsr.gc.ca.