Research and Innovation
If we are to face today’s environmental and societal challenges and transform our society into a more sustainable model, we need to carry out impactful research and technological development. At EPFL, we support collaborative, cross-disciplinary approaches to R&D that help drive sustainability. We have launched several initiatives to support and encourage R&D on issues related to energy efficiency, sustainable construction, green chemistry and other sustainability-oriented topics. Moreover, we have formed partnerships with other research groups, public-sector and civil-society organizations, companies and NGOs in order to leverage synergies.
Today, around 100 of our R&D labs, centers and platforms are conducting sustainability-related research. Since 2017, Energy and Sustainability has been one of our six strategic focus areas. We have set up several R&D centers under this initiative, such as the Energy Center, CLIMACT and E4S.
Beyond this broad theme, we are also conducting research on materials, transportation systems, sustainable cities and healthcare, as well as on the impact of human activities on the biosphere. We are making important progress and plan to carry this work even further.
Our School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) uses an integrated approach to address sustainability challenges on three fronts: climate change, digital technology, and urban development.
Our satellite campuses are heavily involved in R&D efforts. At EPFL Fribourg, the Smart Living Lab focuses on sustainable construction and the future of the built environment.
At EPFL Valais, R&D looks at clean energy systems, green chemistry, and, with the recent opening of ALPOLE, alpine and polar ecosystems in association with the Swiss Polar Institute.
In Neuchâtel, we teamed up with CSEM to open the Swiss Center for Sustainable Energy, which aims to develop photovoltaic and renewable energy systems and energy management services.
More about research units involved in sustainability R&D (a UNIL-IMD-EPFL joint sustainability portal to be launched in 2023)
The latest EPFL research publications related to sustainability
Funding initiatives for sustainability-oriented research
In 2023, this funding initiative calls on our entire community to propose sustainability ideas to help our School reduce its energy dependency and carbon footprint. This initiative also includes building demonstrators on our campuses ready for large-scale deployment.
This is a postdoctoral fellowship program for talented scientists and engineers who want to develop innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges.
This is a funding initiative for cross-disciplinary seed-stage research projects involving scientists and engineers from EPFL and the University of Lausanne. Projects should have the potential to introduce new ideas, systems and communication methods with a maximum societal impact.
Science and Technology for Humanitarian Action Challenges (HAC)
This funding initiative supports project-based research involving scientists and engineers from EPFL and ETH Zurich as well as professionals from the International Committee of the Red Cross to develop technology for improving the impact of humanitarian action.
This is a funding initiative for collaborative research projects involving NGOs and EPFL scientists and engineers.
- Guide to funding opportunities at EPFL
- Directory of national and international funding opportunities for sustainability-oriented R&D
Turning our R&D into new methods and technology will be essential to combat the climate crisis. Several of our initiatives support technology transfer in order to help our economy and society confront environmental challenges. These initiatives include:
- Startup Launchpad, which supports early-stage innovative startups
- Tech4Dev, which addresses social and environmental issues in developing countries – issues identified by international organizations and NGOs – using technology developed by EPFL researchers
- Enterprise for Society (E4S), a center that enables the EPFL, UNIL and IMD research communities to share ideas and work together towards a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive economy
- Tech4Eva, a support program for startups developing innovative technology to improve women’s health, with international reach
- FUSTIC (FUture Sustainable Territories, Infrastructure and Cities), an association created by ENAC to help drive the societal and energy transition. Active in the fields of digital technology and the sustainable development of cities, regions and infrastructure, FUSTIC operates as an R&D network connecting members in Switzerland with peers elsewhere in the world.
For Research: AVP-R / VPA
Prof. Ambrogio FASOLI
For Centers and Platforms: AVP-CP / VPA
Prof. Anna Fontcuberta i Morral
For Innovation: VPI
Dr. Ursula OESTERLE