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March 28, 2017

In 2014/15, Laurier received $1,894,542 from the Indirect Cost Fund (the former name of the Research Support Program). The grant was allocated as follows:

Research Facilities

Throughout the reporting year, the Indirect Costs Program helped Laurier to maintain and improve facilities and equipment across programs and campuses.

For example, funds from the Indirect Costs Program were used to renovate two new lab spaces in the Faculty of Science. These renovations included electrical work, plumbing upgrades, wall removal and paint. These labs support research in exercise physiology and the study of children and autism. These investments were vital in that they allowed two researchers (and their teams) to expand their research programs into new areas, allowing for analysis of field research activities and controlled experimentation. Such lab spaces are essential for Laurier's scientists. Without these renovations, multiple opportunities for research and collaboration would have been lost.

In addition, funds from the Indirect Costs Program were used to hire a technical support position for our Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science. This position ensured that the research centre was set up and functioning properly. Without this position, two research facilities housed within the centre (the Canadian Aquatic Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Boreal Ecosystem Research and the Southern Ontario Water Consortium) would not run as efficiently, thus causing delays in research productivity.

The above-mentioned labs and activities that take place therein provide valuable training opportunities for students at all levels. These expenditures have enabled us to attract and retain exceptional researchers and students because of increased and improved physical spaces.

In the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, funds from the Indirect Costs Program were spent to transport valuable artefacts and a film set to the Brantford campus. By moving a complete film set to campus, researchers and students in the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences as well as the Faculty of Liberal Arts will be able to conduct research in innovative transmedia and digital media (one of the areas identified in our Strategic Mandate Agreement). In addition, valuable artefacts from Huronia (an institutional facility for people with intellectual disabilities in operation from 1800-2009) were transported to Laurier's Brantford campus. Several researchers across campus are engaged in research projects relevant to Huronia and the creation of a digital archive of these artefacts. Without the Indirect Costs Program, we would not have been able to transport these items and the subsequent research and training opportunities would have been lost.

The Indirect Cost grant remains invaluable for providing operating costs such as utilities, custodial and technical services. These remain the major cost drivers in this category. As research space expands and costs of labour increase, the grant helps ensure that research facilities are adequately maintained, especially given the increasing costs of maintaining research space.

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Research Resources

The Indirect Costs Program allowed us to add valuable resources to our library collection. (Acquisitions of library holdings remains the major cost driver in this category.) Some examples are the following:

  • We were able to purchase Cambridge Histories Online. As a collection of reference books from Cambridge University Press, this collection is useful to many disciplines in the humanities.
  • We were able to purchase additional sections of Mass Observation Online, completing our holdings. This is a primary source specifically requested by faculty and graduate students across Laurier's faculties.
  • We acquired the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. It was specifically requested by several faculty members and will be useful in numerous disciplines. In addition to serving as a key reference resource, it will be incorporated into student assignments.
  • With Indirect Costs Program funding, we were able to renew our subscription to the Sage ebook collection. This material covers a wide range of disciplines and includes excellent support material relevant to performing quantitative and qualitative analysis.
  • While our annual budget for purchasing monographs was stretched significantly due to the falling Canadian dollar, thanks to the support of the Indirect Costs Program, we were able to maintain the previous year's level of purchasing and continue to provide our students and faculty with the resources they require to complete their research.

In addition, the Laurier Archives acquired three large new archival collections including the records of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and added materials to existing collections including the Canadian Environmental Law Association fonds. During the past year, we also added new and rare hymnbooks. Laurier Archives has begun capturing web content associated with our collections using the Archive-it tool. The Indirect Costs Program funds also supported the purchase of preservation supplies including acid-free boxes and folders and mylar enclosures for photographs. These funds supported the work of digitizing our collection and providing research support to patrons in-house, in the classroom and in the community.

The Indirect Costs Program also supports scholarly communication through our institutional repository, Scholars Commons @ Laurier. The repository contains electronic theses and dissertations; open access faculty publications; several journals; and digitized archival collections. It supports the library’s scholarly communication program, which includes a strong program of outreach around author rights and open access, as well as close collaboration with the WLU Press around new publishing modes and opportunities. Such activities are increasingly important in relation to Tri-Council's new Open Access policy.

As Laurier has evolved into an institution with a greater focus on research, so too has the library changed the ways that it serves its researchers, including its research graduate students. The Laurier Library’s Research Graduate Assistantship Program (RGAP) is a key part of its interaction in the university’s research enterprise. This program, supported by Indirect Costs Program, gives graduate students the chance to develop their research skills and project management abilities by providing paid learning opportunities to participate in projects in the Laurier Library. Students who take part in the RGAP collaborate with people, information, and systems to expand their knowledge and develop their professional skills. They are mentored by librarians and are offered key learning and professional growth opportunities through the scope of their projects. Without the support of the Indirect Costs Program, this initiative would not be possible.

The Indirect Costs Program has also partially funded a new specialized librarian position in gaming and experience design. Given existing and future directions for Laurier's Brantford Faculties, the knowledge and skill set of this librarian will provide assistance to multiple programs’ faculty members and students, and in areas of research not previously supported to this degree. The position will also be responsible for the acquisition of games/gaming collections (both digital and analogue), which will also support research in public history. This position is crucial to support the research needs of the faculty and students in Laurier's Game Design and Development, Communications, History, English and Film Studies, and Digital Media and Journalism programs.

Without the Indirect Costs Program, Laurier faculty members and students would not have access to critical research materials and would, therefore, not be able to complete their research programs. Investments made in research resources are vital to maintaining a robust research enterprise now and in the future.

Overall, the Indirect Costs Program covers 2.59% of the library's acquisitions and operating budget.

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Management and Administration

The Office of Research Services was able to expand services in 2014/15, largely because of Indirect Cost Program funding. The major cost drivers in this category include institutional support for the completion of grant applications and human resources and payroll.

One new research facilitator was hired to serve Laurier's Brantford campus. The person in this position (like all of our research facilitators) holds a PhD. This position will be helpful in increasing our level of research funding at the Brantford campus. This additional support benefits SSHRC-, NSERC- and CIHR-eligible faculty in Brantford who now receive the crucial one-on-one expert attention and support they require to navigate funding applications, requirements and outcomes.

We continue to benefit from the Indirect Costs Program in order to fund a research facilitator in the natural sciences and a research facilitator in the social sciences and humanities, both on the Waterloo campus. These positions work directly with faculty and their expertise has consistently ensured increased funding levels. The increased funding has impacted the number of highly qualified personnel that Laurier researchers are able to hire and train.

In addition, these funds help us to maintain our knowledge mobilization officer position. The incumbent performs a number of roles, from working with faculty members and community organizations to developing community-based research proposals and promoting research results through Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools. She also assists with the knowledge mobilization plans on all relevant grant applications, thus ensuring our researchers understand the importance of reaching out to stakeholders. Through the expertise of this position, we have been active in the ResearchImpact network. Membership in ResearchImpact allows us to extend the reach of our research as well as contribute to best practice models for the knowledge mobilization community. This inter-institutional partnership assists us in reducing costs related to knowledge mobilization presentations and information sessions.

As our research capacity increases, the manager of research finance ensures that all contracts and programs adhere to relevant guidelines. This position also oversees all relevant reporting and money management. Without the Indirect Costs Program, our ability to manage the financial and reporting requirements would be greatly diminished, thereby negatively affecting our researchers.

Thanks to the Indirect Costs Program, members of our research finance team and research facilitator team were able to attend the Canadian Association of Research Administrators national conference in 2014. This event provided them with invaluable training in Tri-Council policies and financial requirements, as well as best practices in research facilitation in order to service the Laurier community more effectively. Without the Indirect Costs Program, attendance at such conferences would not be possible given budgetary constraints.

In addition, the Indirect Costs Program helped fund the purchase of the Converis Research Information Management System. This new system will greatly increase the efficiency of the research support cycle, alleviating much of the administrative burden associated with both internal and external grant applications. Converis will also increase our ability to track more accurate research metrics and streamline reporting processes.

As an expanding, comprehensive university, Laurier would not be able to attain research excellence without the Indirect Costs Program. We appreciate and effectively use these funds in order to support research endeavours at every level. Our capacity for exceptional research administration is growing in order to match our increasing research outputs, in large part due to the Indirect Costs Program.

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Regulatory Requirements

Personnel is the major cost driver in this area. At Laurier, three individuals work in the area of research compliance, overseeing research with humans, animals, biohazards and radioactive materials.

The research compliance officer ensures that all research is conducted in accordance with Tri-Council guidelines and ensures that research funds are not released until all required clearances have been properly attained. He provides direct support to the Research Ethics Board (REB) and liaises with the Biosafety Committee to ensure certifications are in place before funds are released. In previous years, part of the research compliance officer's duties included research grant application support. Thanks to the Indirect Costs Program, we were able to dedicate his job full-time to compliance, as necessitated by the increased number of ethics applications. Without this change, research would be held up while waiting for REB review and approval.

The Indirect Cost Program also supports the salary of the ethics coordinator in the Department of Psychology who coordinates and reviews all REB applications from this department before final approval is granted by the REB chair. This position helps ensure that applications from psychology meet the research standards in the various streams of psychology as well as Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS 2) 2014 standards. This position speeds up the review process and helps reduce the workload on the REB chair and research compliance officer.

With the support of the Indirect Costs Program, we were able to continue to support an administrator to perform all clerical and administrative tasks related to the running of the Animal Care Committee (ACC), which aided in Laurier maintaining its certificate of Good Animal Practice (GAP®) with the Canada Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

In addition, the Indirect Costs Program helps pay annual maintenance on the electronic system used to manage all aspects of the REB review and approval process. The high degree of automation provided by this system contributes significantly to an efficient review process and frees up time for the REB staff, REB chair and reviewers to concentrate or higher value activities. This system is also fully accessible by all applicants providing them with 24-hour access to their REB applications in order to submit modifications and annual reports as required.

The Indirect Costs Program partially supports honourariums paid to the members of our REB and ACC. These community members are critical to the research enterprise at Laurier. Without the Indirect Costs Program, we would not be able to compensate them for their valuable contribution.

In addition, the Indirect Costs Program helps fund our certifications and memberships with the CCAC and the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science (CALAS). Laurier was able to maintain its certificate of Good Animal Practice (GAP®) in 2014, ensuring we remain compliant with Tri-Council guidelines.

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Intellectual Property

Laurier’s university-industry liaison officer (UILO - the major cost driver in this category) plays three overlapping roles at Laurier:

  • Technology transfer (supporting faculty’s innovations, ~20%);
  • Facilitation of industry-driven research projects (~60%); and
  • Support of research contracts with external partners (including for-profit and not-for-profit, ~20%).

Supporting faculty innovations is a developing aspect of the UILO's position and requires a significant amount of proactive facilitation and education. For example, the UILO is a frequent visitor to Laurier's research labs. Over the last year, the UILO identified two new innovations with excellent market potential. As a result, the UILO worked with these two faculty members and one of the innovations was protected by a patent application while the second is still under development. Without the Indirect Costs Program funds that directly support the UILO position, these research results would remain siloed within the university and faculty members would not receive this valuable support.

The UILO plays a critical role in supporting research linked to entrepreneurship. In the reporting year, the UILO partnered with Laurier's LaunchPad entrepreneurship program and led the organization of the event called Research2Revenue. In this event, four faculty members with new business ideas were matched with entrepreneurial undergraduate and graduate students. As the result, two teams were formed, one of which has since become a startup company.

The UILO position has had a significant impact on the research programs of many faculty members. In the past year, over two dozen new industry partnerships were initiated, resulting in over $200,000 of new research funding. For example, one of our Biology faculty members credits the UILO with improving her research program to include $60,000 from industry partnerships, allowing her to hire new graduate students.

The UILO has had a profound effect not only on research but on graduate student employment. The majority of the industry-partnered research projects at Laurier have resulted in the hiring of our graduate students by those industry partners. While this is not a direct measure of the impacts of industry-sponsored research, it allows our faculty members to attract new high-profile graduate students who see graduate studies at Laurier not only as an advancement of their education, but as a way to increase their employability in the future.

In addition to the above activities, the UILO has completed the following:

  • Supported five patent applications;
  • Drafted over 50 agreements related to industry-supported research projects;
  • Delivered four student seminars;
  • Participated in 14 trade shows and networking events (resulting in eight new industry-led projects).

Without the Indirect Costs Program, these patents, partnerships and agreements would not have been possible. Such successes help Laurier attract and retain high-quality researchers and students.

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