Aim 1: To establish and/or reinforce long-term research cooperation between EU and BRICS institutions on geotechnical and geological response to climate change

Creating synergy between European and BRICS research

The GREAT consortium aims to establish and reinforce long-term scientific and technological cooperation between major research institutions established in Europe and China, Brasil, and India to facilitate access of Europe to research and innovation carried out in emerging economies and, at the same time, to promote Europe as a pole of attraction for research and innovation in geotechnical and geological low-carbon technologies. In particular, GREAT will address four critical areas requiring significant research and innovation:
i) Climate-resilient geo-infrastructure
ii) Carbon-efficient geo-infrastructure
iii) Carbon capture and energy extraction through conventional geo-infrastructure
iv) Geological carbon storage

Aim 2: To allow young engineers, geologists and scientists developing a global perspective of climate change adaptation and mitigation
Aim 3: To foster understanding of different cultural settings within Europe and BRICS countries among a new generation of professionals and researchers

A ‘bottom-up’ approach to foster interaction between European and ICPC institutions

To achieve its objectives, GREAT will adopt a ‘bottom-up’ approach where transfer of knowledge is built upon the secondments 87 PhD/Post-doc students (ESR/ER) for overall 337 man/months involved in mini-projects to be carried out at the Host institution. These researchers are the next generation of scientists and professionals and represent substantial investment for durable and effective long-term cooperation between EU countries and emerging economies. The secondments are also aimed to facilitate deeper understanding of cultural differences between European and non-European countries, which very often generate ‘invisible’ barriers making cooperation more difficult.

Aim 4: To secure funding for long-term sustainable cooperation between EU and ICPC institutions

GREAT as a flywheel for sustainable cooperation

GREAT will capitalise on the collaborations between senior academics at EU and ICPC institutions, built upon the intense network of ‘mini’ projects across the consortium, by setting up and submitting joint research proposals jointly funded by European and ICPC research councils. The secondments of around 20 members of senior staff for overall 91 man/months will serve mainly this purpose in addition to the coordination of the specific research activities associated with the mini-projects.

Aim 5: To address the knowledge gap in low carbon education of current and future engineers, geologists, and scientists.

A new generation of professionals and scientists with ‘global’ climate change perspective

GREAT recognises that fundamental concepts concerning greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration and, more generally, sustainable development are often not addressed in the higher education background of graduates, engineers, and researchers in civil engineering. GREAT will address this knowledge gap in the low carbon education by organizing four Schools, which will mainly designed for early-stage researchers but are expected to be equally of great benefit to established researchers These schools will focus on general and technical issues relating to the low carbon economy:
1) Climate change in Geotechnical and Geological Engineering
2) Advanced Geomechanics and Structural Geology
3) The interaction of geostructures with the atmosphere
4) Exploitation of geothermal energy.

Aim 6: To enhance future employability at the interface between European and ICPC Industry Competitiveness of European Construction Industry

Strategic partnership for attracting R&D investments and FDI

The rapid growth achieved by the BRICS countries in recent years has benefited from the possibilities of technology leapfrogging, i.e. moving directly to the latest and most efficient technologies without passing through several intermediate stages. However, as the BRICS countries succeed in narrowing the technology gap, the possibilities of further leapfrogging will necessarily register a decline. The EU needs to invest to remain a pole of attraction for R&D investments and technological FDI. In the future, European Industry will look more and more for professional figures capable of dialoguing with ICP countries. GREAT will therefore contribute to this strategy by exposing early stage, experienced and senior researchers to Academia and Industry from both EU and ICPC countries. In this respect, GREAT will foster participation of the private sector in the 5 workshops and 1 conference that will be organised, taking advantage of the links that GREAT individual partners have already established with local or national industrial companies. These workshops/conferences will focus on the four research areas mentioned above:
1) Workshop (face-to-face): Tuning research objectives with industrial requirements in EU and ICP countries
2) Workshop (webinar): Climate-resilient geo-infrastructure
3) Workshop (webinar): Carbon-efficient geo-infrastructure
4) Workshop(webinar): Carbon capture and energy extraction through conventional geo-infrastructure
5) Workshop(webinar): Geological carbon storage and deep geothermal extraction
6) International Conference (face-to-face): Geotechnical and geological Responses to climate change: Exchanging Approaches and Technologies on a world-wide scale

Aim 7: To foster interaction of European SMEs with ‘climate change’ key players in BRICS countries

Competitiveness of European Construction Industry

The construction sector plays an important role in the European economy as it generates almost 10% of GDP and provides 20 million jobs. This sector is facing increased competition from non-European operators not only in international markets, but also within the internal market, particularly with regard to infrastructure projects. Resource efficiency in manufacturing, transportation and the use of materials in the construction of buildings and infrastructures along with the construction process itself have a significant impact on energy, climate change, and the environment. As a result, this sector will play an important role in the EU’s long term objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 by 2050. Energy and environmental issues are therefore increasingly becoming key factors in market competition. As a result, technological innovation aimed at reducing carbon emissions can be viewed as a major strategy to boost competitiveness of the European construction industry, within Europe and emerging economies (Innovas 2009). The scientific and technological developments in GREAT and the network of BRICS institutions will be of great benefit to European SMEs to develop and expand their market (engineering/geological services and instruments for monitoring systems). For this reason, GREAT includes 6 associated SME partners that will be involved in the activities at the network level, namely the 6 Workshop.