Now, the focus has shifted to affordable and sustainable housing

Now, the focus has shifted to affordable and sustainable housing

As the perils of rapid urbanization get highlighted by the natural disasters that are possibly accentuated by ‘rapid ‘development’, the focus today has firmly shifted to affordable and sustainable housing.

Habitat for Humanity, a global non-profit organization working in the housing sector, came to Chennai with an initiative to foster industry collaboration and highlight up-and-coming Sheltertech startups that are advancing housing products. Presenting the initiative at a Sheltertech Summit, the non-profit body brought together leading housing sector players to disuss how technology and innovation were the true drivers of impact and transformation of the housing sector. The event was held in partnership with Villgro and ANDE-India.

Focus of the summit was on emerging opportunities that exist in this space. With increased living costs across the country, and the construction sector being one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions, small and large enterprises are seeking solutions to make shelter products and services more cost effective and environmentally friendly.

Addressing the inaugural session of Sheltertech Summit India, Anoop Nambiar, India Country Director, Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, said, “Market adoption of innovative solutions is crucial to address existing challenges in the housing and construction industries. Sheltertech startups featured at today’s Summit have developed many of these solutions, which demonstrate motivation, creativity, and a drive to be sustainable, affordable, and circular.”

Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter has supported 16 startups in India with product development, access to market and fundraising though grant funding, acceleration support, mentorship, and corporate connections. These startups have been able to establish their product market fit, find pilot opportunities, attract new investments, and access new markets to successfully scale their business. Habitat has also supported startups within reputable accelerator programs such CIIE, Brigade REAP and Villgro Innovations Foundation, promoting market opportunities that address the housing needs of low-income households in the country.

The event also saw the launch of the Construction Innovation Hub (CIH) by Habitat for Humanity and Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM). CIH will serve as a platform for construction value chain players like startups, building materials companies, housing finance firms, architects, engineers, and others in the industry to share their sustainable construction experiences, best practices, and solutions.

Speaking on the occasion, Anoop Ambika, CEO of Kerala Startup Mission, said, “With the construction sector striving to optimize processes and deliver projects on time, leveraging shelter technology presents a compelling opportunity. Through CIH, we will be able to promote innovation and entrepreneurship around affordable and sustainable construction in India by fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing among industry stakeholders.”

To tackle the shelter challenges faced by 1.8 billion people globally, there is urgency in making housing products and services affordable, sustainable, and accessible to all. As an emerging impact investment category, ‘sheltertech’ – which refers to innovative technology geared to address housing and construction challenges, is grabbing the attention of investors and corporations.

Speaking on innovation’s role in addressing the housing gap in India, Parivarthan Reddy, Co-Founder of Tvasta, said “As a deep-tech 3D printing startup disrupting the construction industry, we have received abundant guidance, in addition to a valuable network of visionaries through the Sheltertech accelerator program. We are on the exciting threshold of making affordable housing mainstream.”

David Gogoi, Founder and CEO of Zerund Manufacturing added “The mentorship provided by Habitat and Villgro helped us a lot to understand the low-cost housing segment and focus on key market areas. Now we are providing our product – a lightweight and affordable brick compared to traditional bricks – to more than a hundred homes every month under the PMAY scheme.”

As an emerging industry, Sheltertech incorporates innovative and promising technology geared to address the housing needs of low-income families, many of which are being developed by startups. In addition to startups, the Sheltertech ecosystem encompasses all actors – ranging from businesses, incubators, social enterprises, financial institutions, non-profit organizations – that are invested in creating and building housing solutions that are sustainable, profitable, and long-lasting.

Through accelerator programs, catalytic funds and activities such as tracks, events, awards, community and a dedicated knowledge hub, Habitat has already supported 111 startups and scaleups globally.

Southonomix Bureau

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