Research partnerships

A formal research partnership can be defined as

“[a] bilateral or multilateral formal collaboration agreement between an applicant and one or more partner organizations […]. Partnerships may be between academic institutions, or between one or more academic institutions and one or more non-academic partner organizations. These partner organizations agree and commit to work collaboratively to achieve shared goals for mutual benefit.

Partners must provide evidence attesting to the commitment that has been agreed upon.

While the formality of partnerships may vary, a formal partnership is grounded in trust and mutual respect, with partner organizations contributing in a meaningful way to the success of the endeavour. This may include, for example, sharing in intellectual leadership or providing expertise. The partner organization is also expected to provide cash and/or in-kind contributions.” - SSHRC Definitions of Terms

"[...] academic research in partnership with private and/or public sector organizations. The intent is to support knowledge discovery and application by mobilizing the brain trust available in Canadian universities, colleges and polytechnics" - NSERC Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships

"[...] although private or public companies are the most obvious means of exploiting research results commercially, other kinds of organizations may also be appropriate partners to successfully mobilize the research results to achieve the desired impact."- NSERC Eligibility for Partner Organizations

"Partner (applicant) Organizations identified by the applicants themselves that contribute cash and/or in-kind resources to specific projects of research, according to terms negotiated by the applicants. There is no formal relationship between CIHR and Applicant Partners. For reporting and management purposes, CIHR does not consider its relationship with applicant partners to be a partnership." -  CIHR Glossary of Funding-Related Terms

Host institution support: cash and/or in-kind contributions

Each funding organization’s research partnership grant programs provide specific guidelines and requirements that applicants must comply with. Among others, guidelines may limit the number of eligible partner organizations for a particular opportunity, the sector eligibility of partnerships (e.g., non-academic, non-governmental, etc.), and/or require cash and/or in-kind contributions from partners and/or host institutions.

When a research partnership grant program guidelines require host institution support, such as cash and/or in-kind contributions,  SFU institutional and FCAT policies and procedures are also important to comply with.

If you are a Principal Applicant or a Co-applicant on a research grant program that requires host institution support, please read the following section and complete the FCAT Host Institution Contributions Form - Research Partnerships available in the Research section of the FCAT Faculty & Staff Secure Portal (requires SFU Login ID and password).

For more information, please also communicate with your FCAT Research Facilitator, the SFU Institutional Strategic Awards ( and Office of Research Services (

Partnership grants that require host institution support

Tri-Agency research partnership grants that recurrently require host institution contributions include: NSERC Alliance Grants, NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program, SSHRC Partnership Grants, SSHRC Partnership Development Grants, CIHR opportunities that vary (see CIHR ResearchNet - Current Funding Opportunities), and New Frontiers in Research Fund Grants (Transformation and International). This list is not exhaustive.

According to above program guidelines, host institutions and their partners are often expected to demonstrate that a formal partnership exists or is in the process of being developed by supporting the activities through cash and/or in-kind contributions.

Please visit each program’s guidelines and consult your FCAT Research Facilitator for more information.

To ensure eligibility of host institution or partner cash and/or in-kind contributions, please consult the specific grant program guidelines applicable to your research partnership application. 

Procedure to request host institution cash and/or in-kind contributions

Researchers at SFU who would like to request host institution support in cash and/or in-kind contributions to support their research partnership grant proposals may do so by communicating with their Schools, Faculties, central research services and a number of other offices or services across campus that they are collaborating with, such as the SFU Library, SFU Data Hub and others. 

The SFU Office of the Vice President, Research (VPR) - through Institutional Strategic Awards (ISA) - has established a process to provide host institution contributions for selected and major grant programs where such support is either required by the grant program guidelines and/or would make the grant application more competitive. These host institution contributions are shared between the VPR Office and Faculties, Schools, Programs and Departments.  

As a result, FCAT has developed a Procedure and Request Form for all FCAT Principal Investigators and Co-applicants requesting host institution support for relevant research partnership grants. For more information and to access and complete the form, please visit the secure FCAT Faculty and Staff portal, in the Research Section for the FCAT Host Institution Contributions Form - Research Partnerships (SFU Login ID and password required).

International partnerships

In order to move any international partnership forward with SFU, you will need to formally interact with the SFU Senate Committee on International Affairs, because, unless otherwise indicated in the University Policy on International Activities (GP 23), all International activities that are proposed in the name of the University must be submitted to SCIA for review. This includes affiliations with other organizations/institutions (ex. an institutional MOU with another university), and international activities (ex. a field school program abroad).

A good place to start this process is by visiting the SFU International website which has varied resources including listings of internal funding opportunities, existing partnerships, as well as procedures for creating new partnerships.

The SCIA proposal procedure web page is also a good resource. It includes links to the forms you will need to complete, and provides a general overview of how partnership approval processes work.

Other useful information and links: