Open innovation

Saint-Gobain’s outward-looking strategy, notably as concerns innovation, has led it to develop and diversify its partnerships. To keep up with eco-system complexity and ever-faster technological change, the Group needs to work more with external partners to extend its expertise.




Saint-Gobain plays an active role within the global start-up ecosystem through NOVA, its corporate venture arm created in 2006. NOVA’s objective is to enable disruptive innovation that benefit all stakeholders by identifying opportunities for win-win long-term partnerships and turning these into reality, as well as to develop new ideas and business models, creating shared value with start-ups.

Nova's total investment in start-ups corresponds to almost 100 million US dollars (at a price of market).

Deploying various collaboration patterns

NOVA works with Saint-Gobain’s teams to set up strategic co-development partnerships, distribution, marketing or licensing agreements with start-ups. Since the end of 2016, NOVA has extended its field of expertise by acquiring equity stakes in start-ups.

Since 2006, NOVA has participated in the creation of more than 150 partnerships for transformative innovation with startups in various stages and in various forms, including co-development, licensing, commercial agreements, direct investments and joint ventures.

Selecting meaningful projects

In order to select the most relevant projects aligned with the Group’s strategy, in a win-win approach, NOVA balances activities across a 3-dimensional matrix based on transversal target areas - aligned with Saint-Gobain’s ‘Grow and Impact” strategic plan and its long term growth objectives -, the engagement of internal business unit teams, and geographic coverage. In terms of target areas, NOVA works across the board on major topics of interest to the entire Group such as construction productivity, advanced materials and high performance solutions, intermediation and customer experience, building performance, digital connectivity, the electrification of transportation, industrial energy transition, the circular economy, cleantech, with both sustainability and digitalisation at the core of the approach. It also provides targeted support to Saint-Gobain teams working on industrial markets such as mobility - in particular on autonomous vehicles - and life sciences.

Examples include:

  • AMT (United Kingdom), a start-up implementing post-processing of 3D printed polymer components;
  • Fibrecoat (Germany), developing new fiber-based products for the aerospace industry;
  • InDeco (China), deploying an efficient office renovation service thanks to digital design;
  • Hyperframe, proposing a metal framing system for the construction of commercial buildings;
  • Juundo (Belgium), developing reusable steel framewall systems;
  • LivSpace (India), specialising in the optimisation of office spaces; Tri’n’Collect (France), offering recycling services for construction waste that complement NOVA’s previous investment in EcoDrop

Development: a dynamic of growth

The gradual acceleration of Nova's operations has permit to build a tunnel which led to the evaluation than 1,000 projects in 2022, of which more than 300 have reached the level of active deal, and nearly 50 of which resulted in the signing of agreements after due diligence and negotiation (including initial direct investments or successive investments through funds, as well as than trade and co-development agreements).

More information:

NOVA Internet Website

Follow NOVA on Twitter


The international Saint-Gobain University Network (SUN) gives the Group access to the academic world’s latest scientific advances and high level expertise. In addition, this cooperation approach expands the pool of researchers with thesis placements and post-docs, making it easier to hire managers with an excellent level of training in strategic countries. 

The Group has long-term partnerships with, for instance:

  • The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France,
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, and Case Western Reserve University in the United States,
  • The Indian Institute of Technology Madras in India, 
  • The RWTH Aachen University and the Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany,
  • The National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan. 


Partnership with CNRS in France and NIMS in Japan

Saint-Gobain, the CNRS (French National Scientific Research Center) and the NIMS (National Institute for Materials Science) have just opened the Laboratory for Innovative Key Materials and Structures (LINK) in the presence of the French Ambassador to Japan, Thierry Dana. The aim of this international research center is to develop new materials that could have applications in several of Saint-Gobain’s industrial activities, in particular ceramics, grains and powders, crystals, glazing and abrasives. Linked to both Saint-Gobain and the CNRS, the center is housed at the NIMS in Tsukuba in Japan, one of the world’s leading materials research laboratories. This is the first time Saint-Gobain and the CNRS have opened a joint research center abroad.