P.R. tsunami shelter inventor turns to online investors for financing
Miguel Serrano, the local inventor and developer of the STATIM tsunami and flood shelter project, announced Thursday the launching of a global “crowdfunding” campaign to raise the $100,000 in financing he needs to expedite plans to build and commercialize his novel disaster preparedness technology.
The STATIM (Storm, Tornado and Tsunami Interconnected Modules) Shelter System is basically a capsule comprised of a series of precast concrete modules, similar to large concrete pipes. The basic vessel is 75 feet long and 12 feet in diameter and can fit as many as 50 people at a time, Serrano told News is my Business.
Once assembled, the pod provides a watertight environment that is capable of floating and remaining upright, in case of massive flooding. Inside, the shelters are equipped with ventilation and various options of survival supplies capable of sustaining the occupants during and after an event, and until rescue personnel can assist.
“It is the equivalent of an ‘in-land’ life boat,” said Serrano, who began developing the concept about two and a half years ago, landing its U.S. patent in September 2010. Another 14 international patents are pending and several companies outside Puerto Rico have expressed an interest in collaborating with the local entrepreneur to develop the units.
No local support
Ironically, the project that could potentially save thousands of lives in case of natural disasters, fell short in finding much support in Puerto Rico, particularly from the government, Serrano noted.
“There has been zero interest in Puerto Rico. I spent more than 10 months trying to generate some feedback and got just the opposite,” he said. “I received responses from high-ranking government officials showing no interest at all. The apathy is astounding, considering that this is a project whose need is obvious.”
Puerto Rico is one of thousands of islands and coastal communities around the world where topography, proximity to seismic faults, remoteness, or lack of vertical evacuation alternatives make them extremely vulnerable to the devastation of events such as tsunami-triggering earthquakes and other natural threats.
“The STATIM Shelter is a feasible solution for the safety and peace of mind of those communities, and represents a straight forward approach which clearly represents a major breakthrough on how humanity could address these threats from now on,” Serrano said.
‘Crowdfunding’ to raise financing
“Crowdfunding,” which raised $1.6 billion in 2009, is performed mostly online and is a type of fund sourcing to bring individuals together to support and finance compelling initiatives by other individuals and organizations. RocketHub.com, an international crowdfunding platform, is hosting the STATIM Shelter campaign that will begin Dec. 26.
“This launch date coincides with the anniversary of one of the most devastating tsunamis in recent history, highlighting the relevance of the project,” Serrano said, referring to the deadly tsunami that struck Thailand in 2004. “Our expectation is to surpass the $100,000 goal.”
“This campaign also provides a great opportunity for citizens of the world to participate in such an important, life-saving project, even with a contribution of as little as $5,” he said. “This is the perfect example of how small actions, multiplied by thousands of people, can change the world.”
Once the needed financing is attained, Serrano said the pod components will go into mass production to be marketed to individual and corporate clients worldwide. So far, companies in Japan, Holland and the U.S. mainland, specifically in Louisiana, have shown interest in ordering pods that will be integrated into emergency preparation strategies, Serrano said.