Durham University is to work with a charity providing emergency housing, after it won a £100,000 global competition.

Sustainable shelter company Nostos Homes picked up the grand prize of £100,000 worth of research and business support at the ‘just IMAGINE if…’ social enterprise competition hosted at the university.

Supporting ideas to tackle global challenges, ‘just IMAGINE if...’ was founded by Ella’s Kitchen entrepreneur Paul Lindley OBE and aims to drive social, economic and environmental change in the world. The competition is open to anyone with a business idea that helps tackle one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

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This year’s competition saw nine finalists from around the world pitch their ideas to a panel of expert business leaders.

Shreya Aneja of Nostos Homes told the judges the company provides sustainable emergency shelters for people displaced due to natural disasters or violence.

The company will be supported through a series of business support workshops and are matched with a councillor, a group of social enterprise and entrepreneurial leaders, who are on hand to offer advice and help finalists prepare their pitch.

Its shelters are made from modular, locally procurable, and recyclable materials, and can be provided with built-in sanitation and energy access. The kits are completely foldable, modular and lightweight so they can be transported and scaled. Each shelter houses up to six people, and can be assembled in under six hours by six people without any special tools or training.

Founder Kaushal Shetty thought of the idea after witnessing people displaced by annual floods near the banks of the River Suvarna in India while growing up.

Realising the impact being forcibly displaced was having on communities, Nostos Homes was created to provide a secure and fully functional living space to restore personal security, self-sufficiency, and dignity in times of crisis.

Mr Lindley said: “I’m extremely proud of all our finalists for being imaginative enough to conceive of their ideas, brave enough to follow through with them and confident enough to enter the ‘just IMAGINE if…’ competition.

“At a time when there are so many displaced people in this world, I’m delighted that Nostos Homes was our winner. Shreya was deeply impressive in articulating their vision, inspiring in sharing their innovation and humbling in showing what passionate, smart and caring young people can create. I’m confident that this prize will help supercharge turning their ideas into a scaled and impactful reality.”

Prof Claire O’Malley Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global) at Durham University, said: “As an international university with staff and students from around the world we are committed to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to help tackle the challenges faced by our planet.

“The quality of entrants in this year’s competition was incredibly high, and they all delivered inspiring presentations. We are looking forward to supporting Kaushal and Shreya to continue to develop their idea.”


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