Business Plan

  1. Introduction
  2. Executive Summary
  3. Strategy
  4. Funding
  5. Activities

1. Introduction

This is the 2010-2011 business plan for the Climate Code Foundation. It states what we expect to achieve, and how. It describes broad strategies and detailed activities, and identifies potential sources of funding. It outlines the levels of achievement possible at several different budget levels.

This document is not confidential. The intended readership is anyone interested in the work of the Foundation, and specifically decision-makers at potential sponsor organisations.

2. Executive Summary

The Climate Code Foundation is a new non-profit organisation to promote the public understanding of climate science through improving software practices in the field, encouraging the publication of science software, and fostering open development of software for science communication.

We have many years of consultancy experience in diverse parts of the software industry. Through our Clear Climate Code project we have gained the respect and trust of climate scientists and the public. The Foundation builds on that experience, to continue, broaden, and extend that work, guided by our elite Advisory Committee. We have planned a wide range of activities, and embarked on several of them unfunded, but must raise funds to continue.

We have a basic funding target of £150,000 for the year from September 2010. We expect to meet this with 3 “founding sponsors” of £30,000 each, plus £30,000 from event sponsorship and £30,000 from payments for services. This is based on typical corporate sponsorship levels; we are open to other models.

At this basic level, we expect to make gradual progress towards our goals. We have strategies and plans to cover larger budgets, up to £500,000 annually. At that higher level, we would expect to substantially achieve the Foundation goals within five years, by transforming software practices within climate science. We have received several expressions of interest, and are optimistic about obtaining funding. All accounting and sponsorship will be published and completely open.

This table shows the approximate activities, and effects, which we expect at each planned budget level:

Annual budget Staff Activities Effects
< 2 Annual one-day workshop;
Blog, white papers;
Attempt to influence agency policies.
Slight: some awareness within the field.
2.25 More of the above, and also:
Open Climate Code directory;
Some training
Significant: widespread awareness;
measurable increase in publication;
some effect on agency policies.
3.5 More of the above, and also:
Annual conference;
code sprints;
frequent media mentions.
Marked: regular contacts across the field;
significant increase in publications;
marked policy effects.
5.5 More of the above, and also:
presence at all major gatherings
frequent visits to major agencies
extended visits to major institutes.
Pervasive: highly-visible in the field;
known to the science-minded public;
Measurable effects on public understanding.
7 More of the above
Full-time agency/NGO liaison;
Collaborative work with agencies and institutes.
Rapid: public understanding improves each year
Meet Foundation goals within five years.

3. Strategy

The Foundation is pushing on an opening door. Many climate scientists are already working to publish and improve their code. There are also moves in this direction from some governments, funding bodies, governmental and intergovernmental agencies, and institutions. However, even at our most optimistic income forecasts, the Foundation will be a tiny organisation, with 7 staff. There are many thousands of climate scientists in the world, and our goal is to influence the behaviour of every single one of them, and to have an effect on the whole global public. So we need force multipliers, and we have four:

3.1. Science is naturally open

Our most important multiplier is the natural inclination of all scientists to publish. Publication is central to scientific achievement and success. Our message about transparency: “publishing your code will help you and your field” chimes instantly with scientists, as it speaks to this core aspect of their professional ethic and method. The ground is fertile; growth is held back by institutional and cultural inertia – there is no tradition of code publication in science.

We will use this multiplier by reaching out to scientists and providing them with the resources they want and the information they need to win arguments with colleagues, managers, and institutions. By publishing white papers, blog articles, and press items (such as our recent piece in Nature), and through seminars, we will reassure and empower them to go ahead and publish.

By attending and holding workshops and similar events, and by running online resources such as mailing lists and wikis, we will help them to form supportive networks within and across their disciplines: networks to share techniques, information, and code.

By doing climate science ourselves – using our clear code to quickly ask and answer interesting scientific questions, and publishing peer-reviewed papers – we will make our point, and lead where others will follow.

3.2. Climate science must be transparent

Our second key multiplier is the pressure from the interested public and in the media for greater transparency and openness in climate science. This has already translated into specific recommendations from several governments and funding bodies for increased publication and clarity of software. Many agencies have made statements encouraging more publication, and increasing numbers of projects in the field mention publication in their key documents.

We will use this multiplier by working with these bodies. Many of them are already aware of the Foundation. For some years we have worked with scientists through the Clear Climate Code project. We made influential submissions to goverment enquiries earlier in 2010. At the surface temperatures workshop in September 2010 we talked with leaders of various key bodies. By continuing to build and work through this influence network, we are helping to form consistent and coherent policies across the field. By monitoring and reporting code publication activities, we can encourage success and hold failure to account. And by writing advocacy articles on blogs and elsewhere in the media, we can maintain pressure (while bringing a positive and cooperative tone to an often-hostile environment).

3.3. Open-source and modern software is cool

Our third key multiplier is the increasing success and visibility of open-source software projects and of modern software development practices. In their daily lives people are becoming accustomed to rapid and effective software development, and to free software which outperforms proprietary systems. For instance, the constant flood of new iPhone apps, and the increasing popularity of excellent open-source systems such as Firefox, Linux, and Android. Climate scientists are aware that software development practices in science aren’t keeping pace.

We will use this multiplier by offering training and other activities (such as “code sprints”) to climate science groups, projects, and institutions. We will show them the tools and the skills they need to make better software, faster.

And we will engage with interested members of the public and volunteer software developers to increase the development effort of open-source software projects such as Clear Climate Code.

3.4. Scientists learn from each other

Our final multiplier is the use and development of networks across climate science. All sciences already have highly-developed disciplinary and inter-disciplinary networks, expressed in conferences, workshops, journals, inter-agency projects. The movement created by the Foundation will naturally be accelerated by these networks, and the activities of the Foundation (such as workshops, conferences, mailing lists, wikis, and directories) will create new networks to increase this acceleration.

4. Funding

We will have three distinct funding streams, each of which spreads the burden and our risk across many income sources. We estimate that 60% of our income in early years will come from general sponsorship, 20% from event sponsorship, and 20% from payments for services.

This business plan, and related materials such as our elevator pitch, is geared towards finding and securing these funding streams, especially general sponsorship. Our networking activities in September-November 2010 are focussed on identifying key contacts within likely sponsors.

4.1. General sponsorship

First, we are seeking general sponsorship from corporations, agencies, institutions, high-net-worth individuals, and NGOs. Obtaining governmental and inter-governmental sponsorship can be a very slow process, so we don’t expect that to be significant in our first year, but in the longer term the potential resources available are very large. In the meantime we have defined a corporate sponsorship system, and are approaching companies, NGOs, and high-net-worth individuals for contributions. The system defines four levels: silver, gold, platinum, and founding, and we only require a very small number of platinum or founding sponsors to get off the ground: it is likely to be an exclusive club. We expect several large corporations will see sponsoring the Foundation as a natural fit for their business activities. For instance, IT corporations who are already involved in climate science (e.g. equipment suppliers for major modelling centres), or corporations in the energy sector who have a major commitment to climate change activities.

We are also defining an institutional partnership system to raise funds from climate science institutes. The structure is different from the corporate sponsorship system, as the motivations for scientists and institutes to take part in our activities are quite distinct.

4.2. Event sponsorship

Our second funding stream is sponsorship linked to specific events, such as workshops, conferences, and training activities. A one-day workshop should net approximately £4,000. A five-day training exercise should net approximately £10,000. A three-day conference should net approximately £20,000. These numbers are is based on advice from associates experienced in running computer conferences.

Participant fees (or institution fees, for training exercises) should cover direct costs (room, facilities, refreshments, etc), leaving sponsorship income available to fund general Foundation activities.

Again, we will have silver, gold, and platinum sponsorship levels (e.g. £500/£1000/£2000 for a workshop, £1000/£2000/£4000 for a training week or conference), with different resulting levels of presence (e.g. banner, booth, presentation). The details of this will have to be tailored to each event. It is normal for refreshments and social events – e.g. coffee breaks, ice-breakers, meals also to be sponsored.

4.3. Payments for services

Our third funding stream is straight-forward payments for services.

Some of our activities are of direct benefit to a single agency, project, or institution. For instance: seminars, training exercises, code sprints, code reviews, consultancy. These may be charged out to the client body at a flexible day rate, nominally around £700, plus costs (travel and subsistence). The discounts offered will depend on the client’s nature and circumstances, and we can offer a wide range of flexible payment arrangements (e.g. payment by a related institution, bulk buying by a funding agency, cross-funding by a sponsor).

This rate will cover time and effort spent on the services themselves, and our overheads, and will contribute some allowance to funding other Foundation activities.

5. Activities

After deducting overhead costs (travel, office costs, publicity, payroll taxes, etc), time overheads (planning/reporting/tracking/oversight, HR/management, travel for collaboration), and first-year set-up effort, the approximate net time resource available at each different budget level is as follows:

Budget (GBP) First year Out-years
Minimal: £100,000 120 210
Basic: £150,000 245 335
Flexible: £250,000 485 575
Advanced: £400,000 805 895
Maximal: £500,000 1010 1100

Observe the huge jump in net time resources between the £100,000 and £150,000 budget levels, especially in the first year – at the minimal level, set-up and overhead costs are a high proportion of the whole budget. At each level the gross cost per net day, in the out-years, is between £400 and £500.

We have developed a comprehensive list of intended activities. This list includes our existing activities, and is likely to be modified over time with suggestions from our advisory committee. Based on that list, here are estimates for the effort of each distinct activity, in days:

Activity days
Hold workshop 30
Hold sprint 25
Hold conference 50-100
Attend conference 6
Lead author paper 20
Co-author paper 5
Prepare presentation 5
Give seminar 2
Blog post 2
News article 4
Write white paper 10
Update white paper 0.5
prep training day 4
training day 3
prep training week 15
training week 12

Some activities–including making the web directory, code rewrite, code review/document, lobbying, and outreach–are continuous and should simply be estimated in total days effort per year.

Here are some sample year plans based on budget level, both for the first year and for subsequent (“out”) years. These are intended to give an impression of the possibilities at each budget level, not to constrain us to deliver particular numbers of each sort of activity. In practice our budget will fall somewhere within the range, and the particular activities pursued will depend on opportunity, demand, staff, and other circumstances.

Activity 100,000 GBP 150,000 GBP 250,000 GBP 400,000 GBP 500,000 GBP
first later first later first later first later first later
conference - - - - 1 1 1 1 1 1
workshop 1 1 1 1 - - 2 2 2 2
blog posts 12 12 18 20 20 20 40 40 40 40
attend conferences 2 4 4 4 6 6 10 15 12 15
write white papers 2 4 4 4 10 5 10 5 10 6
update white papers - 4 - 4 - 6 - 6 - 8
lead author paper - 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3
co-author paper 2 2 2 2 3 3 5 5 6 8
news article - 1 1 2 4 4 6 6 8 8
prepare presentation 2 3 3 4 5 6 8 8 10 12
lead seminar 2 3 6 12 10 10 20 25 28 30
prep training day - - 1 1 2 2 4 4 6 6
training day - - 3 3 10 10 10 10 12 12
prep training week - - - - - 1 1 1 1 1
training week - - - - - 2 4 5 6 8
code sprint - 1 - 1 - 1 - - - -
lobbying (days) 10 10 15 20 25 25 40 50 50 50
outreach (days) 10 20 20 20 30 50 50 70 70 100
web directory (days) - - 25 25 25 25 40 50 70 70
code rewrite (days) - - - 20 25 25 50 50 70 100
code review/doc (days) - - - 15 25 25 30 45 70 100