News Details | 21-Jan-2010

NTU launches the first multi-disciplinary catastrophe risk management research institute of its kind in Asia

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has set up the first multi-disciplinary catastrophe risk management research institute of its kind in Asia. The institute aims to help the international community better understand the characteristics of risks related to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, floods, droughts, as well as non-traditional risks including infectious diseases and terrorism.

The Institute of Catastrophe Risk Management (ICRM), supported by the finance, insurance and reinsurance industry, will develop models and tools to allow governments and the industry to analyse potential losses and develop risk-management strategies. Decision-makers worldwide and Asia in particular will be able to use such tools to identify vulnerabilities, prepare for a range of possibilities and allocate resources.

Last Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti killed thousands of people and caused widespread damage to property.  This tragedy is another example that shows the need for a new multi-disciplinary approach towards understanding disasters and developing multi-faceted strategies to mitigate their effects. In working towards this, ICRM will be a comprehensive effort, involving NTU’s College of Engineering, the Nanyang Business School and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

The new institute is launched today in conjunction with the inaugural International Symposium on Catastrophe Risk Management, at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. Joining NTU President Dr Su Guaning at the launch of the new institute are Mr Heng Swee Keat, Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Mr Derek Teo, President of the General Insurance Association of Singapore.

“Managing catastrophe risks will become more challenging and more important in the coming years for the Asian region. Singapore, with its connectivity to the global community and its location in Asia, can be a key node for risk management. The setting up of ICRM is timely. ICRM can be a depository of data and knowledge on catastrophe risk management in Asia and be a focal point for regional collaboration and public-private partnerships. I extend my heartiest congratulations and best wishes to NTU and ICRM on this launch, and wish you success in the years ahead,” says Mr Heng.


Managing Director MAS, Mr Heng Swee Keat (left) receiving a memento from NTU President Dr Su Guaning.

Mr Derek Teo (centre), President of the General Insurance Association of Singapore, Managing Director MAS, Mr Heng Swee Keat (left) and NTU President Dr Su Guaning, surrounded by confetti after activating the launch mechanism signifying the launch of ICRM.


“With the establishment of ICRM, NTU professors will be working on integrated risk assessment and management of natural and man-made hazards and catastrophes,” says Dr Su. “The plan is for such work to be conducted in collaboration with risk insurers and modellers from the finance, insurance and reinsurance industry as well as related associations. Through this research, NTU aims to develop Asian catastrophe risk models and build up industry benchmarks and indices to reflect uniquely Asian catastrophe risks.”

ICRM’s Founding Director is Professor Pan Tso-Chien, Dean of the College of Engineering at NTU. Professor Haresh Shah, Stanford Emeritus Professor and member of the NTU Board of Trustees as well as Risk Management Solutions Inc (RMS) founder, has been appointed ICRM’s Advisory Board Chairman.

“ICRM will be the first multi-disciplinary risk management research institute of its kind in Asia, and will join the ranks of a few such foremost centres worldwide, such as Stanford’s Blume Earthquake Engineering Center and MacQuarie’s Risk Frontiers in Australia,” says Professor Shah. “We envision that ICRM will be a key player in Singapore’s effort to strengthen its position as a major financial hub, especially in the insurance and reinsurance areas.”

Professor Pan notes that ICRM’s inaugural two-day symposium has attracted leading researchers, Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of top insurance and reinsurance companies as well as CEOs of risk modelling, and risk and public policy think tanks from around the world.

“The discussions taking place at ICRM’s inaugural symposium will stimulate new ideas, develop novel strategies, and investigate policy implications leading to innovative Public-Private Partnerships in managing catastrophe risk,” says Professor Pan.

ICRM will embark on two key research projects to launch its research thrust in catastrophe risk management.

The first project involves flood risk simulation for a major city in Southeast Asia, where a “flood-risk assessment package” will be developed. The package will enable local authorities to assess the probability of occurrence of floods of various magnitudes, and assist the insurance industry in establishing equitable flood insurance premium rates for the properties under consideration.

The second project aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of seismic hazards and risks based on the research work currently carried out by NTU in earthquake engineering. The project will study a basin with soft soils overlaying the bedrock and develop simulations of ground motions from scenario earthquakes, construction of 3D soil modes, quantification of seismic vulnerability of buildings and estimation of the degree of damage and financial loss to buildings.

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Media contact:
Hisham Hambari
Assistant Director, Corporate Communications Office, NTU
Tel: 6709 6447

About Nanyang Technological University


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