Market research for a Climate Services ObservatoryGo to marco website
Interview with Alessia Pietrosanti, Project Advisor, European Commission – Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
1] Next steps in implementing the European research and innovation Roadmap for climate services and the role (if any) of the ad-hoc expert group in this?
The ad-hoc expert group concluded its mandate with the development of the Roadmap. Shortly after its release, the European Commission – DG RTD, set up an informal working group for the implementation of the Roadmap. The group comprises the relevant Commission’s services, as well as the main international and European programmes and initiatives in this field. It is currently monitoring the Roadmap implementation, mapping the relevant activities and identifying possible implementation gaps. The preliminary results of this stocktaking exercise is that a number of projects and initiatives have been launched or are in pipeline to be, contributing to address the challenges and main activities singled out in the Roadmap. Most of these projects have not been able yet to feed in this process as they have just started, but we expect them to contribute knowledge and experience towards streamlining the Roadmap implementation and its long term (beyond 2020) development.
 What are the H2020 opportunities for climate services?
H2020 offers a number of opportunities for developing climate services. Through last year SC5 call we selected 6 innovation actions for climate services demonstrators for over 22MEuro total grant, in pipeline to be launched, and this year SC5 call invites proposals for research and innovation actions ‘From climate service concepts to piloting and proof-of-concept’. In the same call we opened a topic on ‘Regional modelling’, conducive to the development of the next generation services.
However, I suggest to look beyond the ‘climate services’ label, as opportunities to fund climate services are not only given in other components of H2020, but also in other EU instruments. Limited to H2020, for example, the SME instrument allows submitting proposals for climate services development (call open with multiple cut-off deadline until the end of the year), and this year under the H2020 sustainable food security call – SFS – there is a topic on ‘Earth observation services for the monitoring of agricultural production in Africa’. Beyond H2020, look at the Life Programme, which has a climate component since this programming cycle (next call will open in spring), Climate-KIC, and the structural funds.
 What are key points the climate innovators should keep in mind when preparing a proposal?
Innovators are used to think out of the box, which is excellent, but for ideas to become innovation is essential that they are turned into concrete solutions for users, and provide an added value from their point of view. Instead, I often read proposals more driven by research questions than by end users problems.
When preparing a proposal it is key to put at the centre users and their needs, to understand their decision making procedures, their organisations’ logics and constraints and how the proposed services will fit into those and bring added value to them. In the standard H2020 template we also ask for a dissemination and exploitation plan. This is often provided in very simplified terms and IPR issues are neglected, and wrongly so, as they can also determine the failure or success of the proposed services. Generally speaking, it is a good practice to address in the proposal also what will happen after the project is over, how the legacy will be managed, what commercial or non-commercial exploitation is envisaged. This not only adds credibility to a proposal but is a success factor to have the uptake of innovations in the society.
In brief, it is a good idea to engage in the proposal, since its preliminary design, also professionals who are able to act as ‘intermediaries’ between scientists and end users, and who can address business development, innovation management, marketing and legal issues.
 Medium- to long-term research and innovation (R&I) priorities (under H2020 and beyond) for climate services, and how EU-MACS could contribute to shaping the future markets with climate services?
The EC is now in the process of shaping the future framework programme, and setting longer term R&I priorities. I think that the vision underpinning H2020 to support activities to bring solutions to the main challenges of our society will stay the leit motiv, and in this climate services will have a role to play.
EU-MACS can bring an important contribution towards shaping the future of climate services. Indeed the project is addressing an area relatively unexplored by looking in a systematic way at the barriers – and ways to overcome those – success factors and enablers to the unleash of the climate services market. However, to make a difference, EU-MACS needs to go beyond filling knowledge gaps in these areas, and deliver information that can be actionable by policy makers/regulators as well as by the supply and demand side actors. For doing this, it is essential that the project is clear on who are the recipients of its findings and recommendations, and that those recommendations are provided in a timely and tailored fashion. Looking at the business models, it will be important that EU-MACS factors in how Copernicus Climate Change Services (C3S) moving into a fully operational phase will affect the market dynamics and how this could contribute to realize the market potential. More in general, understanding how public and private provision of services, free and commercial services interact in the various cultural and socio-economic contexts of the member statesand beyond will give a contribution towards the shaping of a market able to bring benefits to the society, minimise the risks and costs of climate change and seize the opportunities of building a climate smart economy.