Seeking startup partnerships and sustainable technologies at Saint-Gobain

By Kelsey Alpaio, Staff Writer

More than 350 years ago, Saint-Gobain, the Paris-based building materials company, was just starting out as a glass manufacturer. Their first customer wanted them to install the windows and mirrors in his new house. The customer? King Louis XIV. The house? The Palace of Versailles.

Today, the company — a supplier of insulation, siding, roofing, and glass, among other products — operates in 66 countries and has more than 170,000 employees. So how has Saint-Gobain continued to innovate and change over the years?

“There’s an element within our DNA and within our R&D organization where we recognize that to be successful for another 350 years, which is our intent, we have to identify those things that are going to disrupt our current businesses,” says Minas Apelian, Vice President of Research & Development and Global Director of External Venturing at Saint-Gobain and its subsidiary CertainTeed Corporation. “It’s a balance between doing the work that we need to drive innovation across our existing businesses, developing new products, solving those problems, and then finding those things that are going to take us to the next level — that even threaten the existing businesses that we’re in.”

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