Experiences from the Extended Affiliate Programme

NeIC coordinates and funds development projects that usually have a life cycle of 2-3 years. In 2020, we launched the Affiliate Programme to enhance the benefits and impacts of our projects after they have been completed. In June 2021, it was announced that NeIC would take new measures to improve the sustainability of our projects’ outcomes in the form of an Extended Affiliate Programme. This extended programme would allow a project coordinator to continue their engagement in the project for up to one year to ensure the transfer and sustaining of results together with the project partners.

– The Extended Affiliate Programme strengthens the transferral of the results and outcomes to the project partners. It is especially important for the results achieved closer to the completion of the project, leaving very little time for a proper transfer, which is often the case. The programme also supports taking full advantage of the business changes implemented during the execution phase at the partner institutions, explains NeIC’s project portfolio manager Tomasz Malkiewicz.

iOBS chosen as the pilot

The first NeIC project to enter the Extended Affiliate Programme was iOBS, a project that ran from January 2019 to June 2020 and was led by Anette Lauen Borg from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The project worked to expand the existing MetCoOp cooperation between Norway, Sweden and Finland, and to improve observation usage in numerical weather prediction. iOBS tested and developed software that prepares both public and private weather observation data for use in numerical weather prediction. Before weather observations can be used in the weather model, they must go through a quality control and some processing to make sure the data are delivered in the correct format.

– iOBS has been a relatively short project, albeit widely recognised as very successful. Supporting the project partners with an extra year to assure taking full advantage of the achieved benefits, while piloting at the same the new extended affiliate concept, has been a natural step to proceed, and it has been very much welcomed by the partners, says Malkiewicz.

The iOBS project manager Borg says they knew already in the project planning phase that the project’s results would eventually become part of the active, operational MetCoOp weather forecast production chain. However, iOBS itself was not meant to directly introduce these changes. Weather forecast production is an important public service, and before any significant changes are made the new components must be thoroughly tested and verified by the MetCoOp group. At the end of the iOBS project, the project results were ready to be introduced into MetCoOp and the verification phase was set to start. However, there were very few resources available in MetCoOp to coordinate and follow up on this work. The NeIC Affiliate Programme allowed for some time to be set aside for Borg to continue as the project manager and coordinate the needed transfer of results.

– The introduction of the largest change in the MetCoOp production chain is now approaching, after some problems regarding lack of personnel at one of the partners were solved. Other iOBS results are also being introduced into the weather observation data flow through local projects at the MetCoOp national meteorological institutes, Borg says.

Now fast approaching its end, the participation of iOBS in the Extended Affiliate Programme has enabled a coordinated effort to introduce the project’s results into the MetCoOp weather forecast production chain. The transfer of results will continue after the programme ends through the channels that have now been established. The final goal for the next couple of years is to have all the iOBS results in use by MetCoOp and the national meteorological institutes.