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Innovative Norfolk start-up Extremis Technology delivers shelters to Nepal victims

PUBLISHED: 12:05 13 May 2015 | UPDATED: 16:10 13 May 2015

Julia Glenn from Extremist Technology. The company design shelters for people hit by natural disasters.

Julia Glenn from Extremist Technology. The company design shelters for people hit by natural disasters.

©Archant 2013

Slum dwellers in the Caribbean and earthquake victims in Nepal will be the first to benefit from an East Anglian firm’s new shelter design.

A rescue worker from USAID inspects the site of a building that collapsed in an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: Niranjan Shrestha. A rescue worker from USAID inspects the site of a building that collapsed in an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: Niranjan Shrestha.

Extremis Technology, which moved earlier this year from Lowestoft to Hethel Engineering Centre, near Wymondham, is poised to launch a crowdfunding campaign on the crowdcube.com platform to raise £100,000 of investment for its first production run.

The funding will pay for 25 of the company’s Hush1 shelters, designed for rapid deployment and big enough to house a family of five, to be built and shipped to the Dominican Republic.

The business, which was only launched in 2012, is working with a charity, Techo, that wants to trial the shelters as a way of improving slums.

Chief executive Julia Glenn, whose previous career included working as software developer and international banker, said: “They are an NGO (non-governmental organisation) working across Latin America so if the trial is successful it could lead to deployment on a much bigger scale.”

Extremis shelter Extremis shelter

The first shelters going to the Dominican Republic will be made by New World Timber Frame, in Saffron Walden, Essex, but Extremis has also agreed to sell the rights for further manufacture of the design to take place on the island.

Mrs Glenn said they were also working with a charity to supply 100 shelters to Nepal in an initial trial to help earthquake victims.

She said: “We are not part of the emergency response. Ours are transitional shelters which come into play when communities start trying to rebuild themselves.”

She said their wooden shelters were well received as fitting into the geography of regions - “they are quite natural, not alien” - however they had also developed prototypes in manmade materials.

Extremis, launched by shelter inventor David Watson and business partner Mark Aspinall, currently employs one full-time engineer and three part-time office staff, but Mrs Glenn sees vast potential for the business to grow with 60 million displaced people in the world. She is already looking for other manufacturers in East Anglia to meet the requirements of future growth.

To promote the new crowdfunding campaign - which will run for 45 days - Extremis will be holding a special event at the offices of legal firm Latham and Watkins at 99 Bishopsgate, London, on May 27 where potential funders will be able to learn about the proposition.

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