Published Feb 24, 2021
Another Wellington UniVentures spin-out company—X-Frame™—has oversubscribed its maiden capital raise, enabling a Victoria University of Wellington entrepreneur to take his game-changing building design to the world.
The X-Frame™ technology—which has the potential to eliminate waste and significantly reduce the amount of raw materials being used by the building industry—was developed by the University’s Ged Finch, and commercialised through Wellington UniVentures.
“The vision was always to create a modern, light-weight timber frame construction system that could transition the building sector from a linear (take, make, dispose) economy to a circular economy—where materials are reused in endless cycles,” says Ged.
The self-braced, interlocking design enables pieces of wood (cut by a computer-controlled router) to simply clip together like flat-pack furniture—which means that any type of structure can be rapidly assembled and disassembled many times over, using unskilled labour and a bare minimum of tools.
“Our carbon-negative technology uses 25 percent less material than standard timber wall framing and is also faster to put up because it just clips together.”
Ged says that X-Frame’s rapid growth has been underpinned by strong support from Wellington UniVentures, along with pre-seed funding from the Kiwi Innovation Network.
“Without either of them, I would never have been able to validate the technology in the beginning, and the idea would have remained just that—an idea, with no opportunity to create impact.”
He says Wellington UniVentures not only helped him to manage the legalities around his invention—i.e. patents, licensing agreements and insurances—they also connected him to Innovyz, the Australian commercialisation partner who co-ordinated the capital raise through a placement to sophisticated investors and strategic partners.
Innovyz have also been instrumental in securing relationships with major construction firms in Australia.
“We are working with Architectural practices, commercial property firms and south Australian manufactures to roll out pilot projects in early 2021,” says Ged. “It’s pretty surreal to think that what started out as a small-scale model on my desk at architectural school could very soon be a fully-fledged housing development!”
Carsten Dethlefsen, X-Frame™ General Manager, says that while the company’s initial focus has been on developing design tools, building and testing the system, and forming strategic partnerships, the new funds raised will enable them to take the business to another level.
“Now we can further develop the X-Frame™ product suite—and the online platform that will facilitate the seamless use of X-Frame™ from design to construction,” says Carsten. “The successful capital raise also means we can continue to investigate markets in the United States and the United Kingdom, where we have already established key relationships with clients requiring commercial office and modular building solutions.”
Ged, who is in the process of employing architectural graduates from Victoria University of Wellington to help build out the technology, says that the capital raise signifies a huge milestone for the X-Frame™ technology.
“After more than four years of hard work it’s incredibly motivating to see this vision being supported by investors who believe the building industry can do better.”
Hamish Findlay, Wellington UniVentures General Manager Commercialisation, agrees.
“We are thrilled to see the continued growth trajectory for Ged and his company,” says Hamish, who is also on the X-Frame™ Board of Directors. “There has never been a better time to see more sustainability in the building industry, and X-Frame™ continues to position itself positively to make the most of this.”