Close search icon

How weather experts are supporting clients from offshore wind to wine producers

28 September 2022

News main image

The translation of science-based research into successful commercial businesses is central to Norwich Research Park’s Enterprise Strategy and its ambitions for the next 10-15 years. One company based on the campus that embodies this approach is Weatherquest, which has been located at the Park since 2001.

It originated as a spin-out from the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA), when current CEO, Steve Dorling, teamed up with two of his guest lecturers who worked at the Met Office’s Norwich Weather Centre until it closed in 2000.

That regional centre included faces and voices that were very familiar to local audiences; for example, Jim Bacon on BBC and Anglia TV and Steve Western on BBC local radio presented the weather forecasts. They both joined Steve to build a business which they originally thought could be a replica of the local service the Met Office had previously delivered, but soon learned that there was a broader market to tap into.

Weatherquest is now one of the UK’s leading national commercial weather forecast and advice operations. Based at the Enterprise Centre at Norwich Research Park it has built up an impressive portfolio of clients.

Today its proposition comprises a mix of services including weather warnings, data feeds, consultancy and advice around three core deliverables:

Operating safely  

In industries such as offshore energy, the weather can have a profound and direct effect on the safety of employees at work. Therefore, many clients work with Weatherquest to plan construction and maintenance work to meet their duty of care to look after the safety of their teams.

Weatherquest also provides 24/7 support to some of the world’s largest cranes that are in operation at UK container ports, handling high import and export volumes on a daily basis.

Improving productivity  

Clients subscribe to Weatherquest’s services to help them work around disruptions caused by bad or extreme weather.

Severn Trent Water, one of Weatherquest’s key clients, provides water services to more than eight million customers. Pipe bursts, floods and demand for water are all affected by the weather, and alerts, data feeds and telephone conference calls are just some of the ways that Weatherquest help Severn Trent to allocate resources and optimise efficiency.

Avoiding the waste of resources  

Weather can cause havoc to many planned activities which could result in wasted resources and have a detrimental impact on the environment. Advice from Weatherquest helps farmers to apply fertiliser or chemical protection to crops at a time of maximum benefit.

An accurate weather forecast can also optimise irrigation plans, be that on a vegetable crop or on a racecourse – optimising precious water resources and reducing expensive energy use for water pumping, reducing the carbon footprint.

As Weatherquest has evolved over the past 20 years, it has become more sophisticated in the way it delivers data and its support to clients as CEO, Steve Dorling, explains: “For most of our clients we tailor the delivery of our services so that these can be more easily integrated into their own unique decision-making processes.

“This means we have to deliver an easy and quick-to-understand dashboard of data that is relevant to each client’s business that enables them to quickly assess the impact weather will have on their operations and make decisions on how best to deploy their resources safely and without waste.”

Looking to the future, it appears there is a growing demand for Weatherquest’s services from some surprising sources.

“The English wine industry is booming at the moment as the warming climate has made it possible for popular grape varieties to now be grown in this country,” says Steve. “As more vineyards start up and expand, we are finding that the intricate management of grape growing requires detailed and up-to-the-minute weather intelligence to help the vineyard managers to optimise the growing environment, protect against frost and plan the harvest. This is proving to be an exciting sector to work with.”

And Steve is unequivocal about Norwich Research Park being a great place to operate from.

“The inter-disciplinary work carried out across the campus is really valuable,” he says. “We have a pool of dedicated and enthusiastic plant science, agri-food, climate change and data mining experts we can speak to across the Park.

“It makes for a really productive environment for our team. And when it comes to recruitment, having the university next door means we can attract top quality people, including really talented students.”

Image: Weatherquest’s office is dominated by a wall of screens featuring satellite imagery, up-to-the-minute weather data and location cams for client location. Credit: Weatherquest.

[cm_form form_id='cm_618be085cb8e3']

Related News

News main image

04 July 2024

Coming together as a community at the Norwich Research Park Summer BBQ

Read more
News main image

03 July 2024

Celebrating Success: The Halo Programme

Read more