Innovation Award
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NOVA and the Start-Ups

Innovation is at the heart of the strategy of Saint-Gobain. Among other things the Group develops innovations in close cooperation with young companies, also known as start-ups.

Saint-Gobain’s NOVA External Venturing group serves as
a unique interface for start-ups and helps create and
develop links with all Group activities worldwide.
NOVA examines how projects coming from innovative
start-ups can be implemented by leaning on the
industrial and commercial assets of Saint-Gobain,
for the greatest benefit of each partner.

Since 2006, Saint-Gobain partnered with 65 start-ups thanks to NOVA. These partnerships can take various forms: co-development, licensing, manufacturing or commercial agreements, investments, joint-ventures.

Start-ups are invited to submit their projects via the Saint-Gobain innovation competition. 168 candidates from 28 nationalities participated in the 2012 Saint-Gobain innovation competition.


In January 2015 Saint-Gobain has officially launched the fifth edition of its Innovation Competition. Since its inception in 2008, this Competition has aimed to reward start-up companies that aspire to develop and commercialize the most innovative solutions in the fields of habitat, energy and the environment such as construction products, advanced materials, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. The Competition is organized and sponsored by Saint-Gobain’s NOVA External Venturing group and offers prizes totaling $100,000.

Three prizes will be awarded by the panel of judges: first prize, $50,000, second, $25,000 and third, $15 000. New in 2015 will be an additional “Saint-Gobain Community Award”, worth $10,000, to be awarded to one of the eight finalists selected by a vote of Saint-Gobain employees. Beyond funding, the NOVA team will evaluate all of the finalists for potential partnerships based on development and R&D, commercial, distribution and manufacturing agreements, or for taking equity interests.


Start-ups from all over the world with projects aligned with Saint-Gobain’s strategic areas of interest mentioned above are invited to submit their entries by June 19, 2015 (DEADLINE extendend to July, 3rd).

A jury made up of members of the NOVA team, in-house and external experts, will examine all entries using an open, transparent selection process and select eight finalists, who will present their innovations before a panel of Saint-Gobain business leaders during a “speed dating” session to be held during the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo (November 18 - 19, 2015) in Washington, D.C. (US).

More information on the NOVA website


Heliotrope, the winner of the competition was awarded the top cash prize of 50,000 $ (about 38,000 Euros).

Based in Oakland, CA, Heliotrope is a developer of energy-efficient electrochromic (EC) glass that switch reversibly between three states: solar transparent, heat blocking, and heat and light blocking (i.e. darkened). Heliotrope’s technology can be relevant to a range of windows products, including buildings, satellites and automobiles. The company is focused on the commercial window market given the immediate potential of its technology to improve the efficiency of building lighting, heating, and cooling. Heliotrope’s smart window technology leverages a novel electrochromic effect discovered by the founders to control light and heat transmission dynamically. A small voltage controls the optical state of the device. Minimal power is consumed during switching and almost none is used to maintain either of the two solar blocking states. This yields great flexibility for system integration and low cost installation.

PlanGrid, the second-place winner received a cash-prize of 25,000 $ (about 19,000 Euros).

Based in San Francisco, Calif., PlanGrid is a complete collaborative platform for construction information and the fastest PDF viewer in the universe. PlanGrid is a platform that combines the power of the cloud with the mobility of the iPad to provide a service that finally allows builders to view and communicate with all their project information right from the field. PlanGrid allows builders to easily distribute, version and view all their drawings, specifications, submittals, schedules and progress photos right on the iPad. PlanGrid is a SaaS (Software as a Service) business that charges a monthly recurring subscription fee per user. By leveraging cloud-based computing, PlanGrid can perform computation and image processing on people’s construction documents to make the rendering of them instantaneous, even on relatively underpowered devices like tablets.

SmarterShade, the third-place winner was awarded a cash-prize of 10,000 $ (about 7,700 Euros).

Based in South Bend, Indiana, SmarterShade is a unique approach to the emerging technology being called “smart windows”. A user can control the amount of light and heat entering a home or office through controlling the tint level on their window. The first generation of SmarterShade is a retrofit film system that is integrated into the window itself. This film is designed so that it will selectively tint at the push of a button. Unique features of the SmarterShade system are that it does not require wires or electricity, it is instantly switchable, and achieves full privacy- eliminating the need for blinds and shades. All of this while reducing energy usage in a home or office. SmarterShade not only gives the user the ability to tint the window, but also to control the level of tinting. A window can go from clear to dark or anywhere in between. Its products can be applied to windows that are positioned in difficult places where a traditional blind or shade is not possible; such as doors, skylights, and transportation windows. The SmarterShade system is also a well suited wire-free alternative to other “smart window” technologies that utilize electric current.

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