Evaluation report on NeIC’s performance published

An evaluation of the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration was conducted during the first half of 2022 by Technopolis Group Sweden in collaboration with Technopolis Amsterdam and external expertise in research infrastructure. The evaluation was commissioned by NordForsk, the host organisation for NeIC, based on an open competition. The evaluation covers the period 2012–2022 and includes the operations of the Nordic WLCG tier-1 facility as well as a selection of ongoing and past projects that explore and develop innovative infrastructure services. The evaluation report was released in June 2022.

Main findings

The evaluation focused on assessing how NeIC has succeeded in its tasks and created Nordic added value through e-infrastructures for science and research, how its benefits can be improved, and how its strategy and organisation are prepared for a future development for e-infrastructure collaboration that creates Nordic added value.

The evaluation report concludes that NeIC has developed well as a distributed organisation over the past decade within a rapidly evolving and complex multi-layered ecosystem. NeIC has grown over time in terms of funding, projects, members, and complexity and expanded its activities from services for high-energy physicists to sensitive data management, climate modelling, biodiversity, collaboration in high-performance computing, and harmonisation of policy and service provisioning both on the Nordic and European level. NeIC operates a high-quality and sustainable Nordic Tier-1 service supporting the Large Hadron Collider research programme.

The report states that NeIC’s strategy is quite complex and has several priorities. NeIC has expanded the project portfolio in directions and at a pace that key stakeholders have not kept up with. Organisational consolidation, strategic growth, and better integration with NordForsk and national key stakeholders are assessed to be critical focal points for the years to come, to achieve maximum Nordic added value.

Recommendations for the future

Three overall recommendations were given by the evaluators:

  • Set up a Nordic e-Forum for the national e-infrastructure provider organisations (NeIC Board), National research infrastructure funders (NRICC), NordForsk and NeIC team where challenges and strategies can be discussed. The Forum should be organised or co-organised by or with NordForsk to strengthen the strategic coherence of NeIC and NordForsk.
  • In the forthcoming NordForsk strategy, set an overall strategy and a clear priority for NeIC. In this process, NordForsk Board and NRICC should have a dialogue with the NeIC Board. NordForsk Board, NRICC and the national e-infrastructure providers need to jointly decide on NeIC’s future role and funding.
  • Set up a renewed Memorandum of Understanding between the funding agencies for a new period to secure the long-term base funding of NeIC and provide a strong foundation for continued and stepwise strategic developments and secured core functionalities.

– The evaluators are to be commended for a professional report with several interesting observations and recommendations. The report will be useful in the further development of NeIC as a coordinator of the Nordic Tier-1 operations within WLCG, but also as an enabler of Nordic research collaboration on other fields of science, says Gudmund Høst, NeIC’s director.

The full evaluation report is available through this link.