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Funding users' participation in product development

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Subject area/Theme

User Engagement/Economy

Best Practice:

Within projects aiming at the development of Earth Observation based data products, user organisations should receive sufficient funding to recover their personnel, travel, and other expenses associated with the project work. The user federations of these projects should hold an overall budget share large enough for them to be the driving force of service development.

Explain why is there a need for this Best Practice?

For users to actively participate in such projects, requires considerable amounts of time and some travel, and, thus, financial resources to be invested. Providing product specifications takes time, and even more time is needed for joint development of data products. Thorough evaluation of data products, particularly if they involve modelling, is time consuming, too, cf. Funding evaluation of data products. Once products are developed, training and capacity building takes time, again. Training is not only received by users, but sometimes also conducted, in that intermediate users train users in other organisations (e.g., in subsidiary political levels).

Provide an example application(s):

There are several successful GMES* products much appreciated by the respective user organisations and already in a (pre-)operational state. These products typically have in common that they were jointly developed in an iterative fashion by providers and users. User federations of GMES* projects show considerable activity among those users who's travel and personnel costs are reimbursed. Some users participate in GMES* projects' management boards, and, again, these users receive sufficient funding to do so. Such situations clearly demonstrate the value of providing funding to users.

How widely deployed is this practice(if applicable)

Unfortunately, the situation described above is rather exceptional for users. Currently, there is a mismatch between the large amounts of funding available for the space sector and data value adding, in comparison to what user organisations receive.  

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Submitter Contact Information:


Detailed Description of Best Practice

GMES service elements (GSE)** of the first stage typically allocated 2-5% of the project budget to user organisations, whereas the projects of the second stage fund only very few of their users at all. The budget share of user organisations in Sixth or Seventh Framework Programme*** funded GMES* projects typically is also in the range of a few percent. Currently, many GMES* projects fund only the travel expenses of a small number of their users. Thus, users are expected to participate mostly or completely at their own expense, whereas data providers and researchers receive partial or complete funding for their activities.Obviously, a group that holds only an insignificant share of the project resources can impossibly be the driving force for the service development.

GMES* related activities go along with a need for a substantial investment on the part of the users. However, users within the tax-funded public sector cannot conduct risky investments, and, thus, they spend only insufficient amounts of time and other resources for the GMES* projects they are involved in. Indeed, a range of products were not jointly developed by providers and users, but users receive these products in their final stages without much opportunity to influence them.

More detailed information on the implications of available funding regarding data product evaluation is provided in a separate practice: cf. Funding evaluation of data products.

Participation in project related user federations again clearly reflects the funding situation, only the few ones who receive funding participate, so that the activities hardly represent the majority of the users involved in the respective project.

)* Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, the European contribution to GEO
)** funding programme by ESA
)*** funding programme by the European Commission


Editor's Comments:

The sentence "Obviously, a group that holds only an insignificant share of the project resources can impossibly be the driving force for the service development." is somewhat awkward for a reader to understand. I believe the intention is to say "Obviously, a group that holds only an insignificant share of the project resources cannot possibly be the driving force for the service development."

I have copied the link to "Funding evaluation of data products"  best practice into the detailed desciption section as well, even though it has been referenced in the earlier summary section.

-- H. K. Ramapriyan

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