Transferring Funds To/From SFU

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Researchers often wish to work with co-investigators at other institutions. Transfers of funds between institutions for use by co-investigators are variously called sub-awards, sub-grants, and sub-contracts or grant transfer agreements. They are used to clarify the obligations of each institution and to address the intellectual property issue.  SFU researchers can enter into collaborations as sub-award recipient or as sub-award provider.

Please note that not all sponsors allow sub-granting their funding. Please verify with the funder before you enter into such collaborations. The sponsor's terms and conditions or guidelines must permit the issuance of sub-agreements.

Please also check the sponsor’s terms and conditions about eligibility requirements for transferring funds. In some cases, the recipient of a sub-award must be either listed as a co-applicant on the application or on the Notice of Award and/or approved by the sponsor. 

Some Canadian sponsors will not permit grant transfers outside of Canada. The amount of funds to be transferred and the recipient's name is in many cases listed in the application budget.

Due to all the steps and correspondence required between institutions and, potentially, sponsors, researchers should allow up to one month for subgrant transfers and up to three months for transferring funds to foreign institutions via contractual arrangements.

Funds will not be released unless there is enough money in the SFU account to cover the amount to be sent elsewhere.

For both incoming and outgoing sub-awards, the principal investigator named by the sponsor will be responsible for the non-financial reporting. The lead institution is responsible for financial reporting. Please refer to the Reporting section for more information.

Transferring Funds from SFU to Co-Investigators at another Institution

When a SFU Principal Investigator (PI) collaborates with a PI in another institution (sub-recipient) to carry out a portion of a project awarded to SFU, Research Services will issue a sub-award agreement to allocate a portion of the work to be carried out at the sub-recipient institution. In these cases, the sub-recipient PI will be responsible for the design, conduct and reporting of their part of the research. The sub-recipient institution must have the appropriate facilities to be able to carry out the work, and the institution’s policies and procedures must be sufficient to ensure the responsible use of sponsored funds.

The following is the process of transferring money from SFU to another institution:

  1. You need to complete, sign, and submit a Sub-Grant Transfer Request Form to Research Services via email at outlining the amount to be transferred, for what, and to whom. After clarification of any remaining information with the grant holder, Research Services prepares a letter of agreement or contract between SFU and the recipient institution and sends this document to the research office of the recipient institution for signature.
  2. Upon receipt of the Sub-Grant Transfer Request, Research Services begins compliance checks on the sub-recipient institution. Then, Research Services determines the most appropriate type of sub-award agreement to be drafted and prepares a letter of agreement. Prime award mandated compliance requirements will be flown down to the sub-recipient.
  3. Once the sub-award agreement has been drafted, it will be provided to the SFU Research Accounting for approval.  Upon approval by Research Accounting, Research Services sends the sub-award agreement to the sub-recipient’s research office for signature.
  4. The sub-recipient’s research office will verify terms, conditions, and certification requirement. Additional negotiation of the sub-award terms may be necessary. Upon final agreement between SFU and the sub-recipient, the sub-recipient will sign the agreement and return it to SFU Research Services.
  5. Research Services will sign the returned agreement and provide a fully executed sub-award agreement to the sub-recipient and SFU Research Accounting. Research Accounting will release funds or a cheque to the sub-recipient institution for the work to commence.

SFU is accountable for all funds, including sub-awards. Research Accounting requests financial reporting from the recipient institution as required by the sponsor.

Why is it taking so long to transfer money to my collaborator?

It takes a longer time to transfer money to another institution in some situations, such as

  • Transferring all or most of your budget to an outside institution is considered “flow through funds” . It poses certain risks to SFU since there is no control and oversight over how the money is spent and whether contractual obligations are met even though SFU is responsible for managing the funds. Please contact early to discuss options and criteria to transfer a large portion of your budget outside SFU.
  • You are transferring Tri Agency funds to a collaborator who works at a non-eligible institution. While the transfer is generally possible, SFU must perform careful due diligence on the partner institution to make sure they have the ability and resources to comply with all policies and requirements that come with participating in the project.
  • The contract with the partner organization contains terms that require negotiation. Please go to the Agreement Execution page for more information.

Transferring Funds to SFU

The PI at another institution contacts his/her research office to request a letter of agreement or contract between their institution and SFU.

The SFU grant recipient needs to complete an SFU Funding Application Signature Sheet and submit it to Research Services ( for approval. Research Services ensures that the SFU sub-grant recipient is in agreement with the terms offered. Research Services receives, reviews, and signs this letter of agreement or contract, verifying that Research Services will administer the funds according to the terms and conditions of the sponsor, and that funds will not be released until certification requirements are met (e.g., human ethics, animal use, and biohazards).

The following is the process of transferring money from another institution to SFU.

  1. SFU Research Services receives a letter of agreement or contract from the research office of the prime institution. Research Services checks whether the following documents have been received from you. If not, we will remind you to send all these documents to Research Services.

    • SFU Signature Sheet
    • Copy of research application
    • Copy of Notice of Award
    • Certificates if necessary
  2. Research Services verifies terms, conditions, and certification requirement, and sends the agreement to Research Accounting for review. Additional negotiation of the sub-award terms may be necessary.

  3. Once Research Accounting approves the agreement, Research Services or the Vice-President, Research will sign off on the agreement and email a scanned copy to the prime institution with copy to you.

  4. Once cheque is received from the prime institution, Research Services will send it to Research Accounting for account setup.

Transferring Funds to Internal Co-Investigator

Please contact Research Services ( if you wish to transfer funds to a SFU Co-Investigator.