posted on Dec. 10: Federal government announces funding for indirect costs of research


The federal government's budget announcement yesterday of increased funding for Canada's granting councils and new funding for the indirect costs of research was enthusiastically welcomed by McMaster University.

“Ottawa's commitment to an innovation agenda sends a clear message that the federal government understands the critical role university research plays in Canada's long-term economic health and development. As the country's most innovative medical-doctoral university, McMaster and its world-class researchers are in a unique position to provide national leadership. We embrace the innovation challenge and look forward to building on the increased government support to help meet the challenges of the 21st century,” said McMaster President Peter George.

The government has committed $200 million this year to help offset indirect research costs at universities and research hospitals. It has also announced a seven per cent increase to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council budgets, and an additional $75 million per year for the 13 new institutes established under the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

McMaster's vice-president of research and international affairs, Mamdouh Shoukri, says the $200 million for the indirect costs of research will help Canada engage in research that is truly competitive internationally.

“This new funding will go a long way in increasing our competitiveness, not just in terms of research output, but also in terms of recruiting and retaining highly qualified faculty and students. This is extremely good news not only for McMaster, but for the entire research community in Canada. We have been pushing for funding for indirect costs for a long time and the government has answered our call.”

Typically McMaster receives four per cent of the federal research envelope. Based on this scenario, today's announcement translates into as much as an additional $8 million to support McMaster's research enterprise.

Backgrounder on Indirect Costs of Research

* Definition of indirect costs of research: Expenses that are not directly associated with the actual performance of a single research project.

* Examples of indirect costs of research:

-Building costs (heating, cooling, maintenance, mortgage)

-Maintenance and upgrading of common dedicated research facilities

-Information technology infrastructure

-Research libraries

-Meeting the regulations on research on humans, animal facilities and the management of hazardous materials

-Infrastructure for knowledge transfer

-Commercialization of research results

-Research administration, accounting and promotion

* Indirect costs of research funded by the granting councils have, heretofore, been drawn from universities' operating funds, resulting in a gradual deterioration of the research environment.

* Universities are responsible for maintaining and operating new facilities established through new research programs such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation awards and the Canada Research Chairs program. One way to do this is through funding for indirect costs.

* In the United States, the federal government funds much of the indirect costs of university-based research through its departments, agencies and laboratories.