Habitat for Humanity expands ShelterTech platform to accelerate global housing innovations

ShelterTech expands into new geographies thanks to support from Autodesk Foundation benefitting Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter

ATLANTA (August 12, 2020) —Toothpaste tubes turned into construction materials in Mexico. Three-dimensional printers that can help build homes in India. A website to connect renters with co-living spaces in Kenya. These are just a few of the innovations in affordable housing that have been supported by Habitat for Humanity’s ShelterTech platform. Now ShelterTech is launching two additional accelerators in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Habitat for Humanity’s ShelterTech is a global innovation platform advancing entrepreneurial housing solutions that have the potential to radically improve the lives of low-income families. Supported by Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter and its partners, ShelterTech puts entrepreneurs at the center of a highly connected ecosystem of mentors, investors, peers, alumni and technical experts who share a passion for revolutionary approaches to delivering affordable housing.

Launched in 2017, ShelterTech has operated accelerators in Mexico, Kenya and India. The platform is now launching new programs in Southeast Asia and in the Andean region of South America. The accelerators’ primary focus will be on supporting housing product and service innovations that help advance shelter goals in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Entrepreneurs innovating on material technologies, construction management, labor, financial services, land, marketplaces and ancillary services such as water, sanitation, energy and access, will be eligible to apply.

The ShelterTech expansion is funded in part by Autodesk Foundation, whose mission is to support the design and creation of innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. The Foundation has been a key supporter of the Terwilliger Center’s work for several years and in addition to financial support, qualifying program participants will be eligible to access Autodesk’s powerful software via the company’s Technology Impact Program.

Autodesk Foundation’s executive director Joe Speicher noted, We are pleased to invest in ShelterTech to identify and support creative new solutions to the affordable housing crisis around the globe. With an increasingly crowded planet, the need to design and build safer, more resilient housing infrastructure is paramount. We’re eager to see what talented entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia can do with the right mix of expertise, technology and financing.”

Participants in ShelterTech experience the full journey of acceleration, working with experts to: develop and improve their products and services; participate in cross-regional, peer-to-peer experiences to exchange knowledge; pitch their solutions to potential investors; and join an accelerator alumni group for ongoing online discussions.

“The 1.6 billion people who live in inadequate shelter around the world are particularly susceptible to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Patrick Kelley, Habitat for Humanity International’s vice president of the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. “Through our expanded ShelterTech platform, we will find and support the most promising innovations that offer scalable shelter solutions for these vulnerable communities. We thank the Autodesk Foundation for making this work possible at a time when it’s needed most.”

Previous accelerators have featured startups such as India’s EcoSTP, which developed a technology to treat sewage water using the principles of biomimicry. In Mexico, ECOLAM manufactures affordable construction material made from used toothpaste tubes and other recycled industrial plastics. In Kenya, The VLage developed a digital platform to link corporate employees in urban areas to co-living spaces.

ShelterTech is an important part of the Terwilliger Center’s strategy to make affordable housing markets more responsive to low-income families around the world. The center drives the Shelter Venture Fund, a venture capital fund to invest in promising and early-stage companies and encourage other investors to do the same. Several ShelterTech alumni have gained investors through the fund.

To learn more about the ShelterTech program, visit habitat.org/sheltertech.

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.