Funding is needed to cover the costs related to establishing and running an LCA database. These costs include, but are not limited to
- the remuneration of people involved in its operation and management, as well as for capacity building,
- database development and
- updating and reviewing of datasets.
There are several avenues through which funding and financing for a database can be acquired, from both public and private sources:
- Public funding: several LCA databases were initially established using predominantly public funding from domestic or foreign public organizations e.g. AusLCI in Australia, SICV in Brazil, the ecoinvent database in Switzerland. The national database initiatives in Malaysia, Peru and Thailand got funded by their local governments.
- Private funding: some LCA databases are privately funded, e.g. through data sales, licence or membership fees, often provided by corporations or consultants with a background in commercial sustainability services for example ecoinvent and GaBi.
- Seed funding: in developing and emerging countries databases have been developed by using, seed money for capacity building which was provided for example by the European Commission and other donor countries/organizations.
- In-kind contributions: a final way for funding the development of databases is through in-kind contributions from experts, research institutions, etcetera that want to contribute to broader availability of LCI data for specific countries or sectors. CDLCI is an example of such a membership driven organisation.
It is important to keep in mind that if there is value created by the database, then someone should be motivated to raise the funds for its provision. To secure the long-term provision and maintenance of the database, it is necessary to pay timely and careful attention to the funding opportunities for developing a sustainable business model, ideally already during the database roadmap process. This helps to avoid the initiative stalling once the initial funding or start-up grants are exhausted.
Description of a clear business case for the national LCA database will help in securing funding.