Earlier this year, France-based construction material manufacturer Saint-Gobain issued the NOVA Innovation Competition to locate three start-up firms that demonstrate the most innovative solutions in the fields of housing, sustainable products and materials, renewable energy sources, and high-efficiency building solutions.
From 270 applicants, eight finalists were recently selected to compete for the top three spots in a Shark Tank-like pitch-off during the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C. Inventors will present their innovations in the form of a “fast pitch” session on Nov. 18 before a panel of judges composed of Saint-Gobain senior executives. The three winners will be awarded cash prizes of $50,000, $25,000 and $15,000, respectively. In addition, the NOVA team will evaluate all finalists and, more broadly, all applicants for potential partnerships, based on development and R&D, commercial, distribution and manufacturing agreements, or for taking equity interests.
One of the finalists in particular--an insulation-applying robot--has ramifications for the residential building industry. Developed in London, the Q-bot system uses robotic tools to insulate hard-to-reach areas of a house with minimal disruption. The robot is inserted through an air vent and deployed to apply insulation to the underside of the floorboards. Q-bot also provides a surveying service that maps a house and provides information on the condition of the building.
Out of applications from 37 countries, the eight finalists are start-ups at varying stages of development, founded between 2004 and 2013, and span diverse segments of the building construction, high-performance materials, energy efficiency and sustainable development market segments. Click the slide show above for information about each.
Click here to see videos about the eight finalists.