In 2016 EPFL established the transdisciplinary International Risk Governance Center (IRGC) with the objective of strengthening the university’s expertise in the understanding of emerging and systemic risks as well as the governance of opportunities and risks associated with new technologies, and to reinforce its collaboration with policy.

IRGC continuously develops the risk governance tools and guidelines, which have been central to IRGC’s reputation since 2004. Those have consistently guided stakeholders in the decision making process about risks marked by complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity.

IRGC’s approach is applied to a large variety of specific issues or domains, including where new technologies create opportunities and associated risks.

EPFL News 16 July 2019: Evaluating the risks posed by synthetic biology

More about IRGC


Current activities

  • Digitalisation and governance
    • Governance and Digital Technology: interrelations and opportunities, governance of and by digital technologies. TRIGGER H2020 project. Link
    • Governing risks related to deep fake (forging authenticity). Expert workshop with support from the Swiss Re Institute
  • Life sciences
  • Risk governance

IRGC Resource Guide on Resilience (Volume 2)

 (November 2018)

The collection of short pieces provides in-depth and pragmatic evaluation of concepts and methods for resilience-based approaches (recovery from disruption) as opposed to risk-based approaches, for articulating better risk and resilience. It considers possible drawbacks of resilience, and the role that resilience can play in helping systems adapt or transform when they face transitions.

>> Go to the Resource Guide   


The Governance of Decision-Making Algorithms

Workshop report (November 2018)

In July 2018, with support from the Swiss Re Institute, IRGC organised a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder workshop on the governance of decision-making algorithms. In a round-table setting, a group of thirty participants representing scientists and developers in AI and data science, experts in regulatory issues and policy analysts, and representatives of industry and insurance companies discussed the governance of decision-making algorithms, with particular focus on automated decisions based on learning algorithms (DMLAs). This report draws together some key insights from the workshop.

Download the report                             Presentation slides


Guidelines for the Governance of Systemic Risks

(September 2018)

IRGC’s guidelines for the governance of systemic risks address the question of how to deal with systemic risks in the context of system transitions, i.e., in situations that require adaptation to new context conditions or transformation of an organisation or ecosystem. The guidelines comprise seven interlinked steps. Their successful implementation depends on strong leadership and the willingness to adapt or revise processes, focus on mid- and long-term issues, and accept and resolve trade-offs.

Download IRGC’s Guidelines for the Governance of Systemic Risks


IRGC is partner in three Horizon 2020 projects

TRIGGER (2019-2021) will address the need to better understand the current evolution and challenges in global governance, and in particular the interaction of Europe with new trends in global governance. IRGC’s role will consist of understanding how global governance and emerging technologies interact, and making recommendations for the governance of emerging technologies such as AI or blockchain. See https://trigger-project.eu/

NANORIGO (2019-2022). IRGC’s role will consist of supporting the development of a framework for the governance of risks related to nanotechnology applications and the creation of a European Council for Nanotechnology Risk Governance. With this project, IRGC comes back to nanotechnology governance. In 2005-2008, IRGC produced a white paper for nanotechnology risk governance, a brief with policy recommendations, and application to food and cosmetics. See https://irgc.org/issues/nanotechnology/.

SmartResilience (2016-2019). IRGC organises contribution from insurance to evaluate indicators and methologies developed by SmartResilience partners for measuring the resilience of critical infrastructure. http://smartresilience.eu-vri.eu/


The economics of precision medicine
Workshop report

In April 2018, IRGC invited twenty stakeholders from academia, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, regulation and patient groups to discuss issues of cost-effectiveness, affordability, value and innovative payment schemes in precision medicine.

Download the report