Knowledge exchange in brownfield data geoscience

Geoscientist Darren Beriro doing science

It’s a real pleasure to write this blog post as a former NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow hosted at the British Geological Survey (BGS).

My Knowledge Exchange (KE) Fellowship focused on increasing the impact of NERC geoscience within the UK brownfield land redevelopment sector. Brownfield land is previously developed, usually located in urban areas, is derelict or underused and may suffer from contamination and/ or land stability hazards.

“Knowledge exchange is two-way listening, learning and sharing of ideas to enhance a common understanding of a particular subject”

Knowledge exchange works when:

  1. All parties share an ambition to improving the status quo
  2. There is mutual trust
  3. The environment and tools used for effective listening, learning and sharing are fit for  purpose

At the start of my KE Fellowship, I ran three workshops in Birmingham, Leeds and London that were attended by over 100 participants from both the public and private sectors.

A cartoon summary of workshops

Three learning points from my KE workshops include:

  1. Awareness of NERC geoscience within the brownfield sector needs to be increased
  2. Geoscience data, information and knowledge needs to be easily accessible
  3. Brownfield geoscience innovation should be co-created with end-users

Engaging with businesses

Engaging with businesses can be very fulfilling. The impacts of successful projects are immediately felt by the people working for and with them. Investment decisions in research and innovation are carefully considered and expectations of returns high. This is especially true with smaller companies who are sensitive to small changes in profitability. My experience with businesses has led me to adopt the following steps when engaging with businesses:

  1. Be clear about your project idea and how it fits with the business
  2. Understand the potential benefits and risks of working together for your host organisation and the business
  3. Root the knowledge exchange around a simple business case for both organisations. This might be economic but could equally be social and/ or environmental

Example outputs from my KE Fellowship

Two highly innovative projects have successfully progressed as a result of my KE Fellowship including: i) Groundhog; and ii) the Brownfield Ground Risk Calculator (BGR_calc).

The BGR_calc has been co-developed with Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Gateshead Council. BGR_calc is an award-winning spatial decision support tool presented in a web-based geographical information system (GIS). As a result of wider collaboration with businesses during the project, Groundsure are now in receipt of Sustainable Innovation funding from Innovate UK to develop a national commercial service.

Groundhog is geological software used for ingesting site investigation data, creating borehole logs and scaled 2D cross-sections of the ground. BGS and Land Quality Management have worked together to create new functionality for creating digital conceptual site models for risk-based management of land contamination. Groundhog Professional is currently being sold by LQM.

Diagram of outputs

The four main outputs of BGR_calc created using a range of spatial data

If you would like to get in touch to discuss any aspect of my blog or research please feel free to contact me directly.


Darren is a geoscientist and former NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the British Geological Survey. Darren’s work focuses on improving the utility of geoscience in brownfield redevelopment projects, his research interests include human exposure to soil contaminants, predictive modelling of geochemical data and multicriteria analysis of spatial data for decision making. Prior to BGS, Darren worked for 10 years in environmental consultancy focusing on risk-based land management and environmental assessments for landuse planning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s