Getting started

Funding research involves several stages. Prior to writing a grant application, a researcher will identify appropriate funding opportunities, familiarize themselves with specific grant program guidelines and requirements. Writing a competitive grant proposal and budget that reflects the full scope of the applicant’s research vision and project is also a skill in itself, as well as managing a project once successful within applicable grant requirements and host institution policies and procedures.

Where to get help

FCAT research development services

FCAT Associate Dean, Research

The Associate Dean, Research (ADR) is a faculty member who leads and oversees research activities, funding, management, promotion and community-building at the faculty. The ADR is appointed by the Dean for a three-year renewable term, based on their extensive research experience and reputation, including grant success as a principal investigator, top-tiered publishing and other research dissemination, research funding management, supervision of research assistants, research collaborations and leadership and mentoring skills. The ADR reviews and approves all FCAT grant proposals, awards and nominations together with Department Chairs or School/Program Directors. The ADR is supported by a Research Grants Facilitator (RF) (see below).

The ADR for FCAT is Dr. Katherine Reilly. Contact:

FCAT Research Grants Facilitator

A Research Grants Facilitator (RF) meets and works with faculty members to develop and help tailor competitive research grant applications. In addition to keeping track of new developments and opportunities for funding, they guide researchers in selecting the best grant programs to apply for, read and provide detailed feedback on draft proposals, advise on institutional and grant program requirements, offer and/or organize grant workshops, coordinate peer reviews and other support towards a strong funding application and research portfolio, including awards and nominations. They work closely with and support the Associate Dean of Research and collaborate with the FCAT Dean’s Office and Schools/Programs in fostering a strong faculty research culture, and internal and external grant processes.


FCAT school/program directors and other personnel

Faculty members seeking specific information and approval within their schools and programs on budget and cost-sharing of facilities, space, students, supplies or other project expenses; management of grant funds; student and research team recruitment; and related request or approval forms should also consult with their school directors. They can also contact school managers, administrative coordinators and director’s assistants.

FCAT school contacts:

School of Interactive Arts and Technology:

School for the Contemporary Arts

School of Communication

Publishing Program

Master of Digital Media Program

FCAT Dean’s Office

The ADR and RF collaborate with a strong team at the FCAT Dean’s Office to promote research success at the faculty level, help build community relationships, keep records and manage grant funds of successful project proposals. This includes the teams of:

  • Academic and Student Affairs
  • Communications & Strategy
  • Indigenous, Alumni and Community Engagement
  • Operations & Strategic Planning

Institutional Strategic Awards

The Institutional Strategic Awards (ISA) Office facilitates pre-award development and post-award management of the largest and most complex grants, contracts, prizes and awards at SFU. Programs supported by ISA often include multi-million, multi-year funding opportunities, research partnership grants with organizational partners requiring host institution and/or partnership cash and/or in-kind contributions, competitions with an institutional quota of eligible applicants or prestigious awards or prizes.

The ISA team consists of senior facilitators, a writing team, an awards & prizes lead, CFI lead, financial analyst, and project managers. The team works in close collaboration with Faculty-based research grant facilitators (RF) - providing the integrated and complementary skillsets needed to develop and manage complex proposals, contracts or nominations. The ISA is a main liaison with the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI) Office for communications, institutional letters of support and other support needed from the VPRI.

The ISA sends regular emails to faculty members and maintains a comprehensive website to provide information about programs that they support with corresponding links to webinars, timelines and other relevant information. Faculty members may contact ISA directly at:

For optimal grant success, it is strongly recommended that faculty members benefit from ISA and RF’s collaborative support. The FCAT Associate Dean of Research or Research Grants Facilitator will also refer faculty members to the ISA team if their proposal or award falls under ISA’s mandate.

Office of Research Services

The Office of Research Services (ORS) of the Office of the Vice-President, Research advances SFU's research mission by providing expertise in research administration and ensuring compliance with policies and procedures of the university and the sponsor. ORS also offers guidance, support and resources for research contracts with government, non-profits and industry through the ORS Contracts Team, including transfer agreements, signature sheets, legal advice, IP, research accounting and data access agreements.

Contact your Faculty Research Grants Facilitator for assistance in developing competitive research grant applications, selecting the best grant programs to apply for, receiving faculty-based RF and peer grant reviews and building interdisciplinary, interdepartmental, and inter-university research teams.

Contact ORS at for assistance in obtaining and administering financial support for research (e.g., application processes, eligibility, SFU Signature Sheet) and research contracts.

Types of funding: grant, contract or donation?

Research can be funded in different ways, and namely: Grants, Contracts or Donations.  There may be overlaps between each of these research funding mechanisms and one does not necessarily exclude the other.  At SFU, definitions and applicable guidelines on Grants and Contracts are covered in Policy R 10.01

Research grants

Research Grants generally refer to funds that are awarded to the recipient by an organization (e.g., Federal granting council, philanthropic organization, other) to enable the performance of self-directed research, where there is no contractual obligation for performance or requirements other  than to use the funds for the purpose(s) outlined in the application submitted to the sponsor. There may be terms and deliverables such as reporting requirements, and payment schedules.  There may also be a requirement from the sponsor that separate agreements or contracts be made between partners to a research grant application.  If you are applying for a research grant, please contact your Faculty Research Grants Facilitator (contact) and the Office of Research Services at

Research contracts

Research Contracts are typically defined as legally binding agreements for academic research where promises to deliver results are exchanged for funding. Contracting agencies can be private industry, government agencies and non-profit organizations. Please note that some agreements or contracts do not provide funding, rather they facilitate research in other ways. Please go to Legal Compliance for more details.  Contracts might include Memoranda of Understanding, Licenses and Letters of Agreement, depending on the situation.  The Office of Research Services Research Contracts Officers and the Legal Counsel review awards and, if necessary, negotiate with the sponsor to ensure the terms and conditions are acceptable to the university. They will consult with the principal investigator, department/faculty/center administrators, and other administrative offices as needed.


Donations or awards are typically given without any limitation for use. These funds are not administered through Research Services. Please contact Advancement or Faculty Relations for more information regarding these funds. However, for donations that will be used for research, please contact Research Services ( to make sure your account setup is not delayed. Because it is not always clear whether something falls under “donation” or “research”, Research Services coordinates with Advancement to make sure your funds are administered by the correct procedures.

Roles and eligibility

Principal Investigator

A Principal Investigator (PI) is the individual who has ultimate responsibility for the design, execution, and management of a sponsored project. In the case of teams or formal partnerships, the principal investigator / project director is understood to be responsible for the overall leadership of the team or partnership. Definitions of a PI (aka “Applicant,” “Nominated Principal”) are also provided on each of the Tri-Council Agency websites – see: SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR.  They are also provided on specific program competition webpages.

According to SFU Policy R10-01, external research grants and contract are generally administered by the university only on behalf of faculty members (i.e. assistant professor, associate professor, professor and professor emeritus) whose term is expected to span the term of funding. Under certain conditions, other applicants may be eligible such as Limited Term Academic Staff, Adjunct Professors,  Post-doctoral Fellows, Research Associates or Non-Faculty Members. For more information, please visit ORS’s webpage on Applicant Eligibility.

In addition, please verify the sponsor’s terms and conditions to make sure you are eligible to apply for or hold funding from the opportunity you are planning to apply for.

For example, NSERC provides certain guidelines about eligible faculty applicants (link). Certain grant programs only allow a University Faculty Member to be a Principal Investigator if they are tenure-track or tenured, or if they have a term or contract position of no less than 3 years. Other grant programs may allow Adjunct Professors to apply for grants even if their primary place of employment is outside the university sector (e.g., government, industry or colleges) but with certain conditions.  Tri-Council grants often refer to the policy of the post-secondary institution with whom an applicant is affiliated to determine eligibility. More info is available at the ORS website.


A Co-applicant is a member of a research group applying for a team grant. A co-applicant generally makes a significant contribution to the intellectual direction of the research or research-related activity (…) plays a significant role in the conduct of the research or research-related activity, and who may also have some responsibility for financial aspects of the research.” (SSHRC webpage).  Definitions are provided on each of the Tri-Council websites – see NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR.

Eligibility requirements vary between grant programs and may include conditions such as affiliation with a national and/or international post-secondary institution or exclude certain applicants such as government, industry and/or non-profit representatives who do not have an affiliation with a post-secondary institution. Please consult the specific grant program’s guidelines for more information.


A Collaborator is also a team member who may make a significant contribution to the research project. This individual may provide a specific services (e.g., access to equipment or data, specialized expertise or technique, statistical analysis, etc.) or bring other resources to the collaboration.  Definitions are provided on each of the Tri-Council websites – see NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR.

Eligibility requirements vary between grant programs and may include conditions, similar to Co-applicant conditions above or allow for greater flexibility such as non-affiliation with a post-secondary institution or the inclusion of international collaborators, even in cases where such eligibility is limited for Co-applicants. Please consult the specific grant program’s guidelines for more information.

Information for new faculty members and start-up research funds

Congratulations on your recent appointment to the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology (FCAT).  

If you have just begun your appointment this year, you will be invited to apply for a New Faculty Startup Grant (NFSG). This requires that you complete a form, and obtain your School or Program Director’s signature to initiate a process of account set up. More information about the NFSG Funding Claim Form and NFSG Policy is available on the Vice-President, Academic website. Please also complete an SFU Research Funding Application Signature Sheet (SigSheet) with your signature and signatures of your School or Program Director and FCAT Associate Dean, Research.

The FCAT Dean’s Office Research Services is comprised of both the Associate Dean, Research and Research Grants Facilitator (see FCAT Staff under “Research”) to support faculty members with the following services:

Please do not hesitate to reach out to FCAT’s Research Services in the event that we can assist you in launching your research career here at SFU. We are here to support you and hope you will both come to us with questions and suggestions as you work to develop your research at SFU.