iOBS pilots an extended NeIC Affiliate Programme

NeIC’s project on improved weather prediction, iOBS, is ending after 2,5 years on 30 June 2021. The project has been very successful and is in the process of transferring their knowledge and expertise to MetCoOp, a weather forecasting collaboration between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia.

“The two main reasons for the success of the iOBS project are the way the project goals have aligned with the project partner organisations and, of course, the hard work of all the skilled project members”, project manager Anette Lauen Borg says. Tomasz Malkiewicz, the project owner, and the iOBS steering group are also very pleased with the outcomes of the project.

iOBS will be the first project to pilot the extended NeIC Affiliate Programme, where the transferral of the project results to the partner organisations and the realisation of the project’s benefits are ensured in a more efficient way. Lauen Borg will continue her engagement with NeIC to help share the knowledge as well as the adaptation of the technical solutions created during the project’s lifetime.

More support for transferring the results…

NeIC projects usually have a life cycle of 2-3 years. In January 2020, NeIC launched the Affiliate Programme to enhance the benefits and impacts of NeIC projects after they have been completed. All concluded NeIC projects and activities are eligible to participate, advertise their highlights on the Affiliate website and apply annually for financial support for organizing workshops or similar events through the programme.

NeIC projects are run to create benefits for our partners or the research community.
Benefits Realisation Management (BRM) is the framework we use to ensure focus on such benefits before, during and after the project period. The process consists of three stages - evaluating, managing and realising the benefits –, and it spans throughout a project’s life cycle. The benefits may induce ‘business changes’. This can for example mean changes in the way services are offered to researchers or changes in the way researchers do their work.

The main functions of the NeIC Affiliate Programme are to look after the projects’ business benefits, e.g., through regularly updated BRM plans, manage stakeholders and maintain connections within the NeIC community, and offer the projects a chance to apply for financial support. As of June 2021, there are nine concluded NeIC projects in the Affiliate Programme. In 2020 two of them received financial support through the programme for organizing training events.

In 2021, an idea of an extended Affiliated Programme was introduced, with the aim of strengthening the transferral of projects’ results. Through the extended programme, the project partners agree to take the responsibility for realising benefits from the project results and outcomes. This is agreed upon and confirmed before the project enters the extended programme through a written agreement between NeIC and the project partners. The affiliate project shepherd, usually the project manager, will continue their engagement in the project for up to one year after the project ends to ensure that the transferral of the results goes as intended. The main criterion for a project to be chosen for the extended programme is the contribution to NeIC’s Nordic Added Value priority.

… leads to a greater impact in the Nordics

The Affiliate Programme has been well received by NeIC project partners and stakeholders. The DeepDive project is a good example of a project that has ended but has continued realising the benefits through the Affiliate Programme. The close collaboration between Nordic and Estonian biodiversity experts has been kept alive, the data continues to be shared across borders, also through a dedicated task within the EOSC-Nordic project, and user training has been provided for ~60 researchers after DeepDive has ended.

Benefits Realisation Management is one of the key activities under NeIC’s Beneficial Collaborations strategic objective. The Affiliate Programme was first introduced as a tool to engage partner institutions after their commitments in projects have ended, and it has proven out to be a good platform to track the realisation of project benefits. Benefits expected from the extended Affiliate Programme include successful completion of the final steps in projects’ sustainability plans, transferring and taking into full use the project outputs and outcomes, including software and appliances, and maximizing business benefits business changes steamming from the projects.