Aidex Voices

Can you tell us a little about your company and product/service? What problems do you aim to tackle? 

There are 65 million displaced people around the world. Many of these live in camps or informal settlements, remaining there on average for 12 years. Tents are used for temporary shelter needs, since they are easy to assemble and can be relocated quickly. But they have a short lifespan and do not provide enough protection against excess cold, heat, strong winds, insects, or other barriers to comfort. 

The maggie was specifically designed to address the shortcomings of tents; it looks like a tent but has the virtues and functionality of modern buildings. The maggie is a double-layer skin construction that can be filled up with materials available anywhere to give strength and insulation. It can adapt to seasons and climate, complies with EU regulations, and its lifespan of 15 years makes it a worthwhile return on investment. 
For the weight and the price of a modest family car, you can get a standard 105 m2 “maggie”: a secure, multipurpose, highly insulated and adaptable school, training or community centre, civil protection unit, field operating centre or temperature controlled warehouse. 

In one sentence, tell us why your product/service should win the Aid Innovation Award? 

The innovation of the maggie means millions of displaced people have access to adequate shelter, education, vocational training, medical treatments and better food storage. This is particularly useful where conventional solutions are inappropriate or unworkable. 

What does it mean to you to have been nominated for the award? 

The nomination is important because it demonstrates that we can address some of the critical challenges in the humanitarian and development world by bringing together different disciplines and expertise. Our newly acquired knowledge is also valuable to address other shelter and construction issues. 
Have you already used your product/service in the field? Please share any local case studies you may have. 

We have already used the maggie in a range of situations in Belgium, from the innovation campus of Leuven University, to a factory testing facility, and a centre for young refugees. Further afield, it’s been used for a treatment and recovery centre, and vocation training centre for victims of sexual violence in DRC Congo, as well as a facility to provide education and vocational training opportunities to the scattered settlements along the Syrian-Turkish border. 

The 2016 AidEx conference theme is ‘Localisation’ – what does localisation mean to you? 

Technically, the maggie uses local materials such as sand and earth, recycled plastic waste and other materials to give the construction strength, security and insulation. It’s also designed to be easily transformable from one kind of space into another. 
From a social perspective, we work with local partners to recycle plastic waste into insulation materials, which creates a parallel source of income for beneficiaries. We also deliver the product to remote, isolated and/or hostile environments allowing our local partners to use it to best effect.