4.6 Eligible costs for infrastructure projects

Eligible costs are defined as the costs of acquiring or developing research infrastructure. Institutions must report the full cost of each item. The taxes net of credits received may be included. Taxes must not be calculated on an in-kind portion. At the application and award finalization stages, the expected cost at the anticipated acquisition date should be reported (i.e., consider expected price fluctuations). Examples of eligible and ineligible costs are provided below. Additional details of costs relating to personnel, construction or renovation and databases are provided in the following sections. Eligible and non-eligible costs associated with a specific competition are detailed in the call for proposals. If a particular item is not clearly defined as eligible or non-eligible, the CFI will consider the request on a case-by-case basis.

Eligible costs

  • Research equipment and components
  • Shipping, transportation and installation of research infrastructure, including brokerage fees, excise taxes and duties
  • Warranties and/or service contracts
  • Software subscriptions and licences
  • Laboratory furniture
  • Communications infrastructure essential for the research activities described in the proposal
  • Travel to a manufacturer, dealer or supplier to select research infrastructure (including costs of carbon offsets for travel)
  • Initial training for the main operator(s) of the research infrastructure (It is expected that the main operator(s) will train other users. Alternatively, an initial group training session may be provided by the vendor at the institution.)
  • Salaries (including benefits) of professional, technical and managerial personnel, consultants and contractors directly involved in the design, engineering, manufacturing, installation, construction or renovation of the infrastructure
  • Construction or renovation of space essential to house and use the infrastructure or to conduct the research activities described in the proposal
  • Acquisition of a database or the time-limited design and development of a database to the point that it is ready for exploitation by a designated research community

Non-eligible costs

  • Purchase or lease of real property
  • Infrastructure that is primarily used for teaching and/or clinical care (When infrastructure is dual purpose (e.g., research and clinical use), costs must be prorated accordingly.)
  • Office furniture and supplies
  • Internal fees for the use of CFI-funded infrastructure
  • Operating costs related to the general maintenance and overhead of the research infrastructure and of the building or other facilities in which the research infrastructure is situated
  • Supplies and consumables
  • Trainee stipends (undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral fellows) and researcher salaries
  • Research-related costs (e.g., primary data collection, recruitment initiatives, publication fees)
  • Conference travel
  • Administrative costs not specifically listed as eligible costs

4.6.1 Personnel

The costs of retaining professional, technical and managerial personnel, consultants and contractors directly involved in the design, engineering, manufacturing, installation, construction or renovation of the infrastructure are eligible. If an institution retains the services of an external provider, the full cost of that provider is considered eligible, assuming it is related to eligible activities. Alternatively, an institution may have professionals, technicians, managers and consultants on staff to perform eligible activities.

Normally, each institution has its own established practices that dictate how costs associated with internal services are charged. Although internal practices vary, they usually consist of one or more of the following:

  • The actual salary cost of the individual plus benefits, multiplied by the actual time
  • An internal rate reflecting an average salary cost plus associated benefits, multiplied by the actual time
  • An internal rate reflecting an average salary cost plus associated benefits plus overhead component, multiplied by the actual time
  • An approved internal fee for service, which may include an overhead component
  • In the case of architectural and/or engineering and/or project management costs related to construction or renovation projects, a fixed percentage of total construction or renovation costs. (The percentage may include an overhead component.)

The CFI accepts the first two practices under any circumstances. It accepts the other three practices only if each of the following conditions is met:

  • The institution does not recuperate (through the use of an internal rate, fee or fixed percentage) more than the full costs of what a department has incurred in providing the services
  • The institution does not claim for reimbursement from another source the costs of a department that are recovered from the CFI
  • The practice is what the institution normally does for the employee providing the service or performing the work related to the eligible activity (This means that the practice used to report expenditures for a CFI-funded project must be consistent with the way expenditures are reported for similar services associated with activities that are not related to a CFI-funded project.)
  • The internal rate, fee or fixed percentage of construction or renovation costs used is the same as that for all other internal clients
  • The internal rate, fee or fixed percentage used is less than or equal to fair market value.

If one of these conditions is not met, then the first two practices must be used.

4.6.2 Construction and renovation

Infrastructure projects may involve the construction of a new building or the development of new space in an existing building (e.g., new floors, reconfiguration of existing space) when space is essential to house and use the infrastructure or to conduct the research activities described in the proposal. This includes purpose-built collaborative space essential for the proposed research and primarily used for research activities. Instalments for the equipment to be located in the constructed or renovated space will be paid only once the space is ready to house the equipment. Where there is an option to either renovate an existing building or construct a new building, the cost-effectiveness of each option must be analyzed. If the most cost-effective option is not chosen, this must be justified and approved by the CFI.

Eligible costs

  • Direct construction or renovation costs, soft costs (e.g., site development and planning, architectural, design and other services, permits, insurance) and contingency costs (i.e., amount budgeted for unforeseen costs; not to exceed 10 percent of the construction costs) for:
    • Space to house the infrastructure (e.g., laboratories, animal facilities, computer rooms, greenhouses)
    • Space to use the infrastructure or conduct research (e.g., workstations, storage areas, technicians’ offices, interview rooms, collaborative spaces)
    • Additional space to house and use other eligible infrastructure (i.e., not part of the current proposal) that is essential for the proposed research activities
    • Essential (i.e., as required by building codes) common elements (e.g., custodial areas, circulation areas, stairways, elevator shafts, mechanical and utility areas, space occupied by structural features, such as fire walls)
  • Costs related to the essential modification of the space immediately adjacent to the CFI-eligible constructed or renovated space that are a direct result of the construction or renovation of the eligible space.

Expected price fluctuations from the time of the application to the start of construction should be included in direct and soft costs (i.e., not part of the contingency costs).

Non-eligible costs

  • Direct construction or renovation costs, soft costs and contingency costs for:
    • Space for non-research use (e.g., administration, teaching and clinical services)
    • Space to house non-eligible equipment
    • Office space for faculty, administrative staff and students
  • Costs to relocate existing tenants
  • Landscaping costs
  • Art collections
  • Administrative costs.

Requirements at the application stage

When a proposal is submitted, an infrastructure project that includes construction or renovation must be developed well beyond the conceptual stage. The CFI expects institutions to have:

  • Defined the needs for the building
  • Explored and decided upon the most feasible option, and
  • Determined reliable estimates of the construction or renovation costs (e.g., estimates by a quantity surveyor or contractor, use of industry standards, recent experience with a similar construction or renovation).

The CFI expects institutions to start the construction or renovation component of a funded project within 18 months of the funding decision. Within this time frame, institutions must have finalized contracts for construction or renovation and must have begun the construction or renovation work. When a project involves multiple sites, the construction or renovation on every site should start within 18 months of the funding decision. While the CFI recognizes that some projects may involve large and complex construction or renovation components, institutions are expected to have completed planning and development work for such projects at the application stage.

For all construction or renovation projects, institutions must provide:

  • A complete description of the entire new space, including common elements (e.g., corridors, washrooms) (The description should include the location(s), size and nature (e.g., wet lab, dry lab, office, greenhouse) of the new space.)
  • A timeline identifying key dates for the various stages of the proposed construction or renovation
  • Floor plans of the proposed new area(s), showing the location of the infrastructure and the scale of the plans (when construction or renovation involves multiple rooms)
  • A detailed breakdown of the overall cost of the construction or renovation project, categorized by cost component (i.e., direct costs, soft costs and contingency costs), when these costs are expected to be more than $500,000.

4.6.3 Databases and digital libraries

A research database is a systematic collection of information that is designed and structured for access and use as a research tool. It may be housed in one central location or distributed across a network. For the purpose of these guidelines, a digital library is considered to be a database. CFI funding will focus on either the acquisition of a database or the time-limited design and development of a database to the point that it is ready for use by a designated research community.

Eligible costs

  • Computers, communications hardware and software
  • Purchase of existing datasets or digital collections
  • Technical or professional work required for the time-limited design and development of a database to the point that it is ready for use by a designated research community, including:
    • Data cleaning (i.e., verification, editing), coding, format conversion, data entry and data transfer
    • Design, development, beta testing, piloting, commissioning and integration of the database
    • Merge and organization of existing data that are not already in usable reference units
    • Customization of tools to enhance value for the user (e.g., intelligent search)
  • Development of user guides
  • Construction or renovation of a facility to house and use the database.

Non-eligible costs

  • Research costs to produce a dataset or database, including:
    • Primary data collection
    • Questionnaire development
    • Survey protocol design
    • Development of sampling methodologies
    • Fieldwork
    • Conducting of surveys and interviews
  • Non-technical personnel costs (e.g., privacy officers, security auditors, security personnel)
  • Routine update of a database
  • Fees for accessing a database for research use
  • Research activities using the database
  • Construction or renovation of conventional libraries
  • Costs to maintain library collections
  • Conventional collections.

4.6.4 Advanced research computing

The CFI expects advanced research computing (ARC) infrastructure to be integrated into the national ARC platform, through processes facilitated by the Digital Research Alliance of Canada. Institutions should consult with the alliance for proposals that request ARC infrastructure. Visit the alliance’s website to find out more.

ARC infrastructure normally includes systems or resources such as:

  • Capacity or throughput computing
  • Capability computing supporting tightly coupled, fine-grained applications
  • Shared memory systems
  • Systems supporting very large memory requirements
  • High-performance storage
  • Long-term storage
  • Cloud computing
  • Computing using specialized accelerators including GPU, CPU and others
  • High-performance visualization systems
  • Systems suitable for computational steering and interactive use. 

Typically, such systems cost more than $100,000.