Research funding provided through the granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) is generally limited to direct project costs (e.g., research equipment, research assistant salaries, etc.). Institutions whose researchers receive funding for research also incur costs to manage their research enterprise. These are often called “indirect costs of research.” These costs include, for example, the costs of maintaining modern labs and equipment; costs of providing researchers with access to up-to-date knowledge resources; costs of managing and administering research; costs of meeting regulatory and ethical requirements; and costs of transferring research results to knowledge users.
The Research Support Fund assists Canadian postsecondary institutions with the costs associated with managing their research enterprise, helping them to maintain a world-class research environment. Grants can be used to:
…helping make Canada a world leader in research and development.
Western provides allocations from the Research Support Fund to support units across campus, including its faculties and internal centres, institutes and groups, like Robarts Research Institute. Funds from this program also provide benefits to:
This program touches research at every level, from the identification of a funding program or the completion of a grant application to supporting cutting-edge facilities and resources that help a researcher bring an idea to life. Western uses the Research Support Fund to support research in the following five categories:
In its most recent strategic plan, ‘Achieving Excellence on the World Stage,’ Western set out ambitious goals to extend its reach and impact globally. At the core of many of these objectives is the need to nurture a research climate conducive to attracting and retaining the very best and brightest faculty and trainees, while offering infrastructure and tools that allow them to produce research that has global and local impact, and provides solutions to the world’s outstanding problems. It goes without saying that in an increasingly competitive, mobile and international academic community, top researchers are drawn to environments that will most benefit their research programs and offer the best opportunity for success.
This funding has provided all of Western’s faculties with benefits from updated laboratories and core facilities, while supporting technical staff, operations, ongoing maintenance and services costs. Used strategically, these funds allow Western to organize research on a thematic or programmatic basis and to increase collaborative research programs that increase the odds of success.
Western’s ability to achieve ambitious objectives set out in ‘Achieving Excellence on the World Stage’ is also heavily reliant on its ability to purchase, maintain and develop research-related materials, including publications, software and hardware. By providing researchers with assets central to discovery, we are better positioned to produce research with impact, and to cultivate a culture of advanced innovation. Much of this investment is made in the University's extensive library system, and increasingly, in digital resources that provide researchers with access to previously impossible-to-find primary and secondary sources – regardless of their location.
By allowing academics to dedicate a greater proportion of their time into research, the Research Support Fund’s investments in research administration contribute greatly to Western’s ability to foster a leading culture of innovation. Furthermore, they help the University forge important partnerships with academic institutions, industry and communities to encourage the translation of knowledge and discoveries for the betterment of Canadian lives.
Broadly speaking, this funding helps faculties across the university provide researchers with a number of support services critical to the efficient management of the research process, including accounting, rules and procedures guidance, human resources administration, information technology, research promotion and knowledge transfer. These services enable researchers to ensure that appropriate guidelines for grant funding are being followed, expenditures are managed, and human resource issues are taken care of on their behalf, allowing them to focus on their scientific work and increase productivity.
As part of its effort to take the next step as a globally recognized research institution, Western has consistently assumed a leadership role with regards to research ethics and animal care accreditation. Compliance has become an increasingly important – and time consuming – aspect of the research enterprise, and Research Support Fund funding contributes to supports that lessen time burden for principal investigators, allowing them to focus more on their research programs. Research Support Fund monies are an essential resource that allows Western to achieve accreditation and maintain its enterprise in a climate where there are ever-increasing concerns about privacy, ethics and compliance.
Funds provided through for indirect costs continue to support WORLDiscoveries in its commercialization efforts. Research Support Fund monies underwrite the operation’s base budget and allow WORLDiscoveries to recruit and retain highly qualified business development managers and administrative support personnel.
These managers often then transfer their acquired skills into the private sector and/or establish companies of their own to help migrate new inventions to market. In all cases, WORLDiscoveries agreements return vital investment to the institutions and allow researchers to continue their work with capital generated from a marketplace that places an economic value on their inventions. WORLDiscoveries remains committed to this service proposition and will continue to use these funds to support its market-driven mandate.