A Look Back at the
2012 Nova Innovation Competition


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This was the official website for the 2012 Nova Innovation Competition. Saint-Gobain’s NOVA External Venturing team seeks partnerships with innovative start-up businesses in the fields of construction products, advanced materials, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Content is from the site's 2012 archived pages, as well as from other outside sources.

To learn more about NOVA by Saint-Gobain go to: https://www.nova-saint-gobain.com/

The Saint-Gobain unit dedicated to developing strategic partnerships between Saint-Gobain and start-up companies all over the world.

Saint-Gobain complements its significant commitment to in-house research and development by identifying start-up companies on the leading edge of emerging technologies that mesh with Saint-Gobain’s areas of strategic interest. NOVA External Venturing is the “match-maker” between start-ups and Saint-Gobain business units.
• Established March 2006
• Small core teams in U.S., Europe and Asia
• Works closely with venture capital funds and corporate venturing organizations
• 1,800+ start-up companies identified as potential partners to date
• 40+ partnerships initiated

NOVA External Venturing - An innovation Catalyst

NOVA External Venturing is the Saint-Gobain unit dedicated to developing strategic partnerships between the Group and start-up companies all over the world. Combining projects launched by innovative start-ups with Saint-Gobain's manufacturing and commercial potential greatly magnifies these partners' innovative capacities, enabling projects to be brought to fruition within a much shorter timeframe.

NOVA External Venturing brings entrepreneurs into contact with Saint-Gobain within a framework of establishing long-term development partnerships. Through these partnerships, Saint-Gobain’s R&D, manufacturing and sales capabilities can be combined with the very latest ideas from the world of habitat and state-of-the-art materials. Together, Saint-Gobain and its partners work to bring sound ideas into marketing opportunities, developing a new generation of products or services for buildings, energy efficiency and sustainable development.

NOVA has made mutual respect between start-ups and Saint-Gobain its trademark. The relationship can then progress at each step through the innovation’s maturation process: upstream of development, in the industrial validation phase, and even at the time of its sales launch. The cooperation can take a variety of forms: intellectual property license, joint technological development, production joint venture, commercialization agreement, and more rarely, a direct shareholding. There is a customized agreement for each project to ensure the best level of reciprocity.


Starting with great ideas. Scaling with Saint-Gobain's knowledge and resources. Soaring together. 

The NOVA Innovation Competition 2012 was a magnet for innovation from every corner of the globe. Entrepreneurs from 28 countries submitted innovative ideas for green construction materials, energy conservation, clean technologies, construction industry services, lighting and display, and advanced materials.

Contestants included startups from around the world: 

• Australia 
• Belgium 
• Brazil 
• Canada 
• China 
• Colombia 
• Croatia
• Estonia 
• France 
• Hungary
• India 
• Ireland 
• Israel 
• Jordan 
• Latvia
• Malaysia 
• The Netherlands 
• Poland 
• Rwanda 
• South Korea
• Spain 
• Syria 
• Turkey 
• United Arab Emirates 
• United Kingdom 
• United States 
• Uzbekistan 
• Vietnam

Speed Dating Segment 

Armed with laptops, tablets, product samples, and winning presentations, one representative from each of the eight finalist startups presented their pitch to members of the NOVA jury. In true speed-dating style it was an intense 10 minutes with each judging team as representatives strove to convey the essence and innovation of their company, their product and their approach to business. 

Jury Deliberation Segment 

Having heard pitches from all eight startups, the jury met to compare notes, review scorecards and deliberate on which startups offered the best strategic fit with Saint-Gobain. Since all eight finalists will have the opportunity to partner with Saint-Gobain, judges considered the technical potential, market/business potential and management team potential of each of the eight finalists. The judges discussed their experience of each representative and shared their perspectives to come to a decision. 

Announcement of Winners Segment 

Excited to hear the jury's selection, an audience started to gather 30 minutes before the official announcement of the NOVA winners. Master of Ceremonies Carmen Ferrigno addressed the assembly at 3:30 and shared the vision and purpose of NOVA External Venturing and the NOVA competition: Start with a sound idea. Scale it to the commercial level. Soar to success. AND Outovate to innovate: Saint-Gobain resources + outside innovation =the next generation of green building products. 

The judging brain trust 

A panel of five experts in green construction and building materials helped select the eight contestants competing for NOVA Innovation awards:

Phil Williams is vice president at Webcor Builders, Inc., a leader in LEED certified construction. He heads Webcor's Sustainability and Systems Engineering groups and serves as the chairman of the San Francisco Mayor's Green Building Task Force.
Phil Williams
John Fernandez is an associate professor in the Building Program in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the book "Material Architecture: Emergent Materials for Innovative Buildings and Ecological Construction."       
John Fernandez
Hugo Destaillats, Ph.D., is a staff scientist and deputy group leader in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Indoor Environment Group, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He specializes in indoor environment and health research and has published extensively on subjects such as internal toxins and air quality.        
Hugo Destaillats, Ph.D.
Dan Geiger is executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Northern California Chapter. With more than 9,000 member organizations, the U.S. Green Building Council is the nation's foremost coalition promoting buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.        
Dan Geiger
Steve Selkowitz is a senior advisor for building science and the group leader of the Windows and Envelope Materials Group in the Building Technology and Urban Systems Department at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is the author/co-author of more than 170 publications and three books on window technologies, façade systems.   
Steve Selkowitz


Your company: Soaring with Saint-Gobain

Saint-Gobain is the world’s largest building materials company. We have a passion for invention that stretches back to our founding 350 years ago.

Saint-Gobain embraces new ideas through its NOVA External Venturing organization. Are you off to a good start with an innovative idea backed by initial research? Do you want to scale it but don’t have the research and manufacturing resources? Are you ready to soar to success in a partnership with Saint-Gobain? Submit your idea to the NOVA Innovation Competition. Seize your chance to Start, Scale and Soar.

Build your start-up’s potential...compete in THE leading Habitat innovation competition.

Win a chance to pitch your innovative business to the senior leadership team of Saint-Gobain. Compete LIVE at Greenbuild 2012 in a fast pitch/speed dating format. Saint-Gobain offers public recognition, cash prizes, and the power of a partnership with the world’s largest building materials company.

Saint-Gobain is proud to announce that the NOVA Innovation Competition is being presented in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council's Northern California Chapter.

Start-ups in the following areas are encouraged to apply: 

Construction Materials that improve comfort, efficiency 
and safety, and lower housing costs.
[Green materials, built-in solar power, thermal and acoustic insulation, prefabricated solutions and systems, ventilation and air quality, water purification and management, functional materials such as antimicrobial and self-cleaning, etc.]

Energy with a focus on sustainable approaches
and next-generation technology.
[2nd and 3rd generation photovoltaic cells, fuel cells, catalysis, energy storage and conversion solutions, etc.]

Clean Technologies for customers or processes.
[Biomass, biopolymers, gas separation, exhaust gas processing, recycling technologies, etc.]

Lighting and Display technologies for energy efficiency, design innovation and new applications.
[Transparent electrodes, substrates and active layers for LEDs, encapsulation of OLED devices, lighting solutions incorporated into building materials, natural lighting technologies, etc.]

Services for the Construction Industry 
to help envision and build the future.
[Software or Internet solutions for craftsmen, renewable energy installation,
renovation and energy performance, etc.]

Advanced Materials that push the boundaries of materials science for high-performance applications.
[Ceramics, crystals, innovative glass and plastics, etc.]



Selection of the Finalists 

Choosing the NOVA Innovation Competition 2012 finalists was a lengthy and thoughtful process. It started back in April, when startups from all over the world were invited to submit their innovative business ideas in construction products, advanced materials, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability to Saint-Gobain. From a total of 168 entries received by the competition deadline in July, the field was narrowed to 39 semi-finalists, and then ultimately to the 8 finalists who will compete in the final round at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

Each of the competitors went through a stringent review process by a panel of in-house and outside experts, which included representatives from Saint-Gobain, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. Green Building Council — Northern California Chapter, and Webcor Builders.

As part of the finalist selection process, the panel considered a variety of criteria in deciding which of the businesses offered the best strategic fit with Saint-Gobain. Factors included technical potential, market/business potential and management team potential. The judges also considered the startups’ potential for success in the market as well as the potential for partnership with Saint-Gobain. The semi-finalists were ranked, evaluated, and then re-ranked based on input from both Saint-Gobain’s internal team and the outside experts. The resulting 8 finalists represent the most promising of the startups and will have the opportunity to present their innovative business ideas to Saint-Gobain in a live speed-dating format at Greenbuild on November 15.

Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Timeline

Meet The Jury

A judging panel consisting of Saint-Gobain business leaders will select the winners of the NOVA Innovation Competition 2012.
Armand Ajdari Prior to joining Saint-Gobain, Armand Ajdari had an academic career as a physicist in CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) in France. He was head of a research lab at the Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielles in Paris from 1997 to 2007, and authored or co-authored more than 120 scientific papers and several patents. Armand taught graduate courses in several universities and schools in France. Additionally, he spent two years in the USA, first as a visiting scientist at Harvard University and then as a visiting professor at Harvard and MIT. He is currently the R&D Vice President for the Innovative Materials Sector of Saint-Gobain and was previously the Deputy R&D Vice President for the Saint-Gobain Group.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Armand Ajdari
Didier Roux studied chemistry and physics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of St. Cloud and earned a Ph.D in 1984. He published more than 150 international publications, and has earned 13 patents. He has been awarded prizes and distinctions including the Grand Prix IBM materials and the Grand Prix of the French Academy of Sciences Mergier Bourdeix. Didier holds the Silver Medal of CNRS. Interested in applications of research, he participated in the creation of two startups in 1994. He is a member of the French Academy of Sciences (Institut de France) and the French Academy of Technologies. In 2005 he was appointed the Research and Development Vice President for Saint-Gobain and is currently Vice President of R & D and Innovation.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Didier Roux
Claude-Alain Tardy graduated from Ecole Centrale de Paris and received his MS in industrial engineering & engineering management from Stanford University. He joined Saint-Gobain Vitrage as a production manager in 1981, became Managing Director Saint-Gobain de Colombie in 1985, followed by Managing Director of Eurofloat, Vice President of Corporate Planning, Vice President Norton Abrasives North America and Asia, Vice President Saint-Gobain Glass Europe, and Chief Operating Officer of Saint-Gobain Insulation Activity. Claude-Alain is currently President of Saint-Gobain Gypsum and Vice President of Eurogypsum Association.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Claude-Alain Tardy
Jean-Pierre Floris graduated with a degree in engineering from the Ecole des Mines de Paris. He earned his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Paris and a master’s degree in Economic Systems Planning from Stanford University. He was President of the Alumni Association of the Ecole des Mines de Paris and a member of the Board of Directors of the Ecole des Mines. Within Saint-Gobain Jean-Pierre has held various positions including Financial Controller, Technical Manager and Plant Manager in a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain and Corning, Industrial Director of Saint-Gobain Desjonquères, Managing Director of the Specialty Containers activity, General Delegate of Saint-Gobain for Spain and Portugal, General Delegate of Saint-Gobain for the Brazil / Argentina / Chile zone, President of the Flat Glass Sector, Senior Vice President of Saint-Gobain and is currently President of the Innovative Materials Sector.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Jean-Pierre Floris
Gerard Aspar graduated from the Business School of HEC Paris (Hautes Etudes Commerciales) in 1976. The same year, he founded K par K, where he was appointed President in 1989. Gerard transitioned to GME in 1992, where he served as President until the company’s acquisition by Saint-Gobain in 1996. He then became General Manager and created La Plateforme distribution concept in France. Since then he has held several positions within Saint-Gobain, including Director of International Operations and New Concepts for Saint-Gobain Building Distribution and is currently Corporate Chief Marketing Officer of the Saint-Gobain Group.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Gerard Aspar
John Crowe earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Clarkson University and an M.B.A. from Boston College. In 1978 John joined Norton Company (which was acquired by Saint-Gobain in 1990) as a process engineer. Over the years, he has held various positions in engineering, financial management, business development, marketing and sales, and general management in the company's Advanced Ceramics and Crystals businesses. John has also held the following positions: President of the Fluid Systems Division of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, President of Bearing & Seal Technology, Division President of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, President of Saint-Gobain Abrasives and has been the President and CEO of Saint-Gobain Corporation, the North American operations of Saint-Gobain, and of CertainTeed since 2011.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: John Crowe
Julia DiCorleto earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering & materials science from the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D in polymer science/chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to her industrial career, Julia spent two years at the JJ Thomson Physical Laboratory at the University of Reading in Reading, England. She joined Saint-Gobain Abrasives in 1995 as a Research Supervisor. She has worked in R&D for the Abrasives and Performance Plastics Divisions and held the positions of Director of Business Planning and Technology for the Composites Sector of Plastics, Business Manager for the Extruded Films Business and General Manager of the Foams Business before accepting her current position as General Manager of the Foams & Tapes Business Unit of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Julia DiCorleto
Claude Imauven graduated from École Polytechnique and Ingénieur au corps des mines. He began his career in 1983 at the French Ministry of Industry, where he held several management positions in public administration, including positions on the Minister's Foreign Trade and Industry staff. His career at Saint-Gobain began in 1993 within the Flat Glass Division, where he became Vice President of Industrial Policy, then Vice President Industry and Finance. In 1996, he was appointed General Delegate for Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Returning to France in 1999, he joined the Pipe Activity as Chief Operating Officer of Pont-à-Mousson SA. In 2001, he became Chairman & CEO of that company and President of the Pipe Activity. Since April 2004, he has been Senior Vice President of Saint-Gobain and President of the Construction Products Sector.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Claude Imauven
Rose Lee holds a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Cornell University, an M.S. in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined Saint-Gobain in 1999 as Director, Strategy & Planning for CertainTeed’s Exterior Building Products businesses. Rose has served as Director, Strategy & Planning for CertainTeed, Executive Director, eBusiness, for CertainTeed, Vice President, Information Technology for Saint-Gobain in North America, Vice President and General Manager of CertainTeed’s Pipe & Plastics business as well as President of Saint-Gobain Crystals. She is currently the Vice President and General Manager, High-Performance Refractories & Crystals for Saint-Gobain Innovative Materials.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Rose Lee
Tom Kinisky started his career with Saint-Gobain in 1990 when he joined the Northboro Research & Development Center as Director of the Technical and Analytical Services Group. He has served in the Abrasives branch of the company, first as Technology Director of Worldwide Bonded Abrasives, then as Vice President of Technology and New Business Development. Tom moved into general management in 2002, when he was named President of Saint-Gobain Crystals. He is currently President of the Performance Plastics business within the High Performance Materials Sector of Saint-Gobain.
Saint-Gobain 2012 NOVA Competition Jury Member: Tom Kinisky



Heliotrope Technologies 

Congratulations to Heliotrope Technologies on earning top honors at the NOVA Innovation Competition 2012. The results were announced on November 15 after the final speed-dating round held at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

The runners-up were second-place winner PlanGrid and third-place winner SmarterShade. 


Heliotrope Technologies was awarded the top cash prize of $50,000 (about €38,000), while PlanGrid and SmarterShade won $25,000 (about €19,000) and $10,000 (about €7,700), respectively. The bigger prize for all NOVA Innovation Competition contestants is the opportunity to partner with Saint-Gobain's NOVA External Venturing organization in exploring potential joint development, licensing or other collaboration agreements. 

"This year's NOVA Innovation Competition attracted our largest and most innovative field of contestants yet," said Rakesh Kapoor, director of NOVA External Venturing and the Northboro R&D Center (Saint-Gobain's largest R&D Center in North America). "We congratulate Heliotrope Technologies, PlanGrid and SmarterShade on their winning presentations, and we look forward to forging long-lasting relationships with any NOVA Competition participant whose innovation and entrepreneurial drive aligns well with Saint-Gobain's market objectives." 

Runners Up 


1st Runner Up: PlanGrid 



2nd Runner Up: SmarterShade 



Eight finalists were selected from a field of 168 entrants and will present their innovations in a live speed-dating format at Greenbuild on November 15 at 11 am
Aquamost Inc. (Brookfield, WI) – A chemical-free system for the remediation of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other oil/gas well wastewater, combining catalyst plates, UV light and electricity.
Architectural Applications (Portland, OR) – An air conditioning efficiency technology that uses membrane-based, air-to-air heat and moisture exchangers integrated into the building envelope system to create healthier indoor environments with much less energy.
Blue Water Bioproducts (Port Huron, MI) – Developer of eco-friendly polyurethane resins made from lignin, a pulp and paper industry waste product.
Encapsulix (Simiane, Provence, France) – Developer of thin-film coating equipment that make OLED, LED lighting, photovoltaics, organic electronics more durable and less expensive to manufacture.
Heliotrope Technologies (Oakland, CA) – Developer of energy efficient electrochromic glass windows that can switch between solar transparent, heat blocking and heat and lighting blocking states.
PlanGrid (San Francisco, CA) – Complete collaborative platform for construction information and the fastest PDF viewer in the universe.
Smarter Shade (South Bend, IN) – A daylight control platform that enables a new or existing window to go from clear to dark with the touch of a button, which activates a sliding film.
ThermoCeramix Group (Boston, MA) – A radiant heat system integrated into gypsum wall board and tiles for ceilings and walls.