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Using twinning to strengthen Croatia’s institutional research capabilities in geoscience

To strengthen its research capabilities, the Croatian Geological Survey turned to twinning. Through the EU-funded GeoTwinn project it was paired with two other world-leading research institutions and received personalised training in geoscience research. They now have the internal capacity and skills to investigate geological hazards that will benefit not only Croatians but all EU citizens.

© Ximinez #3547797, source: 2021

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With a wealth of industry-leading research centres and world-class universities, the EU has established itself as a global leader in research and innovation. But to maintain this competitive edge, Europe must take steps to ensure that this research doesn’t happen in silos.

“With research spread out across the continent, there is a very real risk that institutes and universities end up working in isolation,” says Nina Hećej, a project assistant at the Croatian Geological Survey (HGI-CGS). “When research happens in silos, we often miss opportunities to strengthen our work through collaboration.”

To help mitigate this risk, the EU is advocating the use of twinning. “Through twinning, we can significantly strengthen the research and technology capacity of one organisation by pairing it with at least two other leading research institutions working in other countries,” adds Hećej.

With the EU-funded GeoTwinn project, Hećej got a first-hand look at the benefits of twinning. The project aimed to strengthen HGI-CGS’ research capabilities by twinning it with two world-leading geoscience research institutes: the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) and the British Geological Survey of United Kingdom Research and Innovation (BGS-UKRI).

Collaboration and knowledge exchange

The main goal of the twinning exercise was to enhance HGI-CGS’ internal capacity. To do this, the project coordinated 14 short-term staff exchanges, nine expert visits, and a number of workshops. “These actions were a great opportunity for our staff to get hands-on, personalised training in their field of specialisation,” explains Hećej.

According to Hećej, 31 HGI-CGS staff members received technical training in such areas as: 3D geological surveying and subsurface modelling, advanced groundwater flow and contaminant transport modelling, remote sensing in geological hazards, data collecting and analysis, and fluid and heat flow modelling.

“Through collaboration and knowledge exchange, we significantly advanced the capabilities and competencies of our staff,” remarks Hećej. “We have now successfully embedded state-of-the-art techniques and have raised our capabilities to investigate geological hazards and conduct geothermal system research.”

However, twinning is not meant to be a one-way street. Instead, it aims to ensure that all involved partners benefit. In the GeoTwinn project, GEUS and BGS benefited from the opportunity to work within Croatia’s diverse range of unique geological settings. They were also able to expand their professional networks through close cooperation with new colleagues and experts from Croatia.

The power of twinning

The GeoTwinn project serves as a prime example of the benefits of twinning. As such, the project partners have collaborated to compile and disseminate case studies and best practices in twinning. This information can be found via the (project’s website) and social media accounts and is available to other institutes and universities interested in implementing their own twinning initiatives. Additionally, several other EU-funded projects are already leveraging the knowledge and data produced by GeoTwinn.

“The GeoTwinn project successfully demonstrated the immense power of twinning,” concludes Hećej. “Twinning opens the door to more opportunities for funding, enhances an organisation’s capabilities, facilitates the commercialisation of research results, supports the transfer of technologies and know-how and strengthens Europe’s position as a global leader in research and innovation which will ultimately benefit all Europeans.”

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Project details

Project acronym
Project number
Project coordinator: Croatia
Project participants:
United Kingdom
Total cost
€ 996 717
EU Contribution
€ 996 717
Project duration

See also

More information about project GeoTwinn

All success stories