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. 3,500 researchers from 37 countries work on more than 700 projects. In addition, in 2012 more than 400 patent applications were made; more than every fifth product which is offered by the main industrial sectors did not exist five years ago yet.
Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and onstruction markets, organized its forth innovation competition in 2012. Within the context of this competition, start-ups were honoured which offer outstanding innovative solutions in the areas of Residential/non-residential construction, energy and environment. The winner received prize money of around 38,000 Euros.
NOVA and the Start-Ups
- NOVA examines how projects coming from innovative start-ups can be implemented faster by leaning on the industrial and commercial assets of Saint-Gobain, for the greatest benefit of each partner. NOVA serves as a unique interface for start-ups and helps create and develop links with all Group activities worldwide.
- 168 candidates from 28 nationalities participated in the 2012 Saint-Gobain innovation competition.
- Since 2006, Saint-Gobain partnered with 54 start-ups thanks to NOVA.
WINNERS EDITION 2012
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.
WINNERS EDITION 2010
Trovotech GmbH emerged as the winner of the competition and received prize money of 25,000 Euros.
Trovotech GmbH - a German start-up company founded in 2000 - produces glass particles by means of an innovative high temperature extrusion process. The glass particles produced, so- called TROVO® powder, have a surface which is physically modified and chemically highly active and can be used as new functional and economical additive in various applications and areas, for example, in order to achieve catalytic effects in synthetic materials. In addition, TROVO® powder equipped with silver and/or zinc ions as TROVO® guard protects plastic products against bacterial attack.
Crystalsol GmbH and SOLEÏS Technologie each received prize money of 10,000 Euros.
Crystalsol GmbH - an Austrian start-up company founded in 2008 - develops an innovative form of flexible photovoltaic module for applications in the area of building integration. The technology offers several advantages: versatile possible applications such as flexible, transparent, coloured, in size and form adaptable modules as well as cost advantages of 50-60% compared with current manufacturing costs. Crystalsol is currently transferring the production of 5 x5 cm² partly automatically produced monolithic modules to a continuous roll-to-roll production with up to 5 MWp.
SOLEÏS Technologie, a French start-up created in 2009, offers innovative solar potential analysis solutions. SOLEÏS is able to calculate the solar potential of a given site as well as the efficiency and the return on investment of a photovoltaic installation, in order to provide a technical and a financial report in less than 15 minutes. The company develops its activities in two areas: technological tools for the photovoltaic industry through a complete range of Solar Potential Analyzers and consulting for individuals and professionals who need an independent solar potential analysis.