Habitat for Humanity Challenge: Increasing Resilience to Earthquakes and Typhoons for Homes with No Foundations

$25,000 USD

Challenge overview


Tens, or perhaps hundreds, of millions of people in low-income areas throughout the world live in homes that do not have an adequate foundation. This puts the people and their home at extreme risk in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or typhoon. Habitat for Humanity, supported by SeaFreight Labs, is seeking innovative, cost effective methods to retrofit such houses to make the structure stronger to enable them to survive high magnitude earthquakes and typhoon force winds. An innovation in this area could potentially improve the lives and safety of countless people around the globe.

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation and proof-of-concept demonstration data if available.



The foundation of a house serves many vital purposes with one of the most important being to anchor and strengthen the structure against outside forces such as the movement of the ground and wind pressure. While important for any house worldwide, this aspect becomes even more important in areas prone to earthquakes and typhoons or hurricanes. Unfortunately, constructing a foundation adds significantly to the cost and the time to build a house and so many houses in low income areas throughout the world have been and are built without them. The Philippines, the focus area for this Habitat for Humanity Challenge, sits right on the Pacific Ring of Fire and thus is subject to major earthquakes as well as typhoons and it is estimated that more than 1.6 million houses exist without foundations in the country. Retrofitting foundations for these existing houses using traditional means is far too expensive for the low-income homeowners and therefore Habitat for Humanity is seeking innovative new methods to add foundations or otherwise anchor and strengthen houses in a cost-effective manner. An innovation in this area could potentially help tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people worldwide live in safer, more durable housing. While the primary focus of this Challenge is on retrofitting existing structures there is also a need to develop less expensive methods for adding foundations during the initial construction phase and ideal solutions would encompass both aspects of adding foundations to low-income housing.

The submission to the Challenge should include the following:

  1. A detailed description of the proposed Solution addressing specific Technical Requirements presented in the Detailed Description of the Challenge. This description should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by literature and/or patent precedents if available.
  2. Proof-of-concept demonstration data, if available, as outlined in the Detailed Description of the Challenge.  

The Challenge award is contingent upon theoretical evaluation and field demonstration or validation of the submitted Solutions by the Seeker. Note that due to the need to field test potential solutions the evaluation period for this Challenge has been extended to 120 days.

To receive an award, Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the Seeker. Instead, Solvers will grant to Habitat for Humanity a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions and the right to share awarded solutions with other nonprofit organizations worldwide. Habitat for Humanity will make awarded solutions freely available to other nonprofit organizations to help improve the state of low-income housing worldwide.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 05-Jan-2021Late submissions will not be considered.



Employees and interns of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), as well as their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling, and their respective spouses) or persons living in the same household, whether related or not, are eligible to enter the Challenge; provided that they will not be eligible to receive an award if their Solution is chosen.  In addition, the Solutions of employees and interns of HFHI will fall under HFHI’s employment policies and be considered work product of HFHI. Please note, employees and interns of Habitat for Humanity Affiliates and independent National Organizations are eligible to enter and receive an award if their Solution is chosen.



Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working in more than 70 countries around the world. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.  Habitat works toward our vision by building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing.

Through the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter (TCIS), Habitat for Humanity facilitates more efficient and inclusive housing market systems, making affordable housing possible for millions of more families.

Habitat for Humanity formally launched the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter at the historic Habitat III, which took place in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016. The Terwilliger Center is one of Habitat’s key commitments toward the implementation of the United Nation’s member states’ New Urban Agenda.

The Terwilliger Center consolidates more than a decade of experience in developing market-based solutions for housing and the body of work resulting from these early efforts, formerly referred to as the Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance. Through the Terwilliger Center, Habitat will accelerate and facilitate better functioning inclusive housing markets to enable more than 8 million people access to improved shelter solutions by 2020. www.habitat.org/tcis.

Habitat is supported in this project by SeaFreight Labs (www.seafreightlabs.com), an open-innovation consultancy using global challenges to cost-effectively deliver breakthrough innovation. Participation in this project is a direct result of the recent SeaFreight Labs decision to join the Pledge 1% movement.


What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive RTP Challenge?

An InnoCentive RTP (Reduction to Practice) Challenge is a prototype that proves an idea, and is similar to an InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge in its high level of detail. However, an RTP requires the Solver to submit a validated solution, either in the form of original data or a physical sample. Also the Seeker is allowed to test the proposed solution. For details about treatment of IP rights, please see the Challenge Specific Agreement (CSA).

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