October 24 2019

CertainTeed, Saint-Gobain NOVA and Greentown Labs Celebrate Final Milestone of InNOVAte 2019 Challenge with Startup Panel Discussion

Somerville, Mass. – Fall 2019 – Representatives from four start-up companies recently gathered for a panel discussion to share key insights and takeaways from their experience participating in the InNOVAte Challenge, a six-month accelerator program designed to disrupt the built environment chain.

Developed by CertainTeed, Saint-Gobain’s leading building and construction brand in North America, along with Saint-Gobain NOVA, the external ventures arm of one of the world’s largest building materials companies and manufacturer of innovative material solutions, and Greentown Labs, the largest cleantech incubator in North America, the accelerator program brought together resources, funding and knowledge to help the startups develop innovative technologies and solutions.

Over 100 startups applied for the program, with the goal of disrupting the built environment. Out of the applicant pool, four InNOVAte Challenge participants were selected to complete a 6-month long, rigorous program that included workshops with mentors to help them scale their ideas for the marketplace. The startups included:

  • Hyperframe, based in San Francisco, CA, is designing, manufacturing, and distributing a new class of building components that can be installed without tools or skills. Its products include a steel framing system for commercial buildings which can be installed up to 75 percent faster and 30 percent cheaper than traditional materials.
  • Inovues, based in Houston, TX, is developing a non-intrusive building envelope retrofit system that enables the windows and glass facades of existing buildings to be upgraded as energy efficient and smart without requiring any replacement, alteration, or drilling. The system can increase window insulation by up to 10 times and can save owners up to 40 percent on energy consumption.
  • Pre Framing Corp., based in Berkeley, CA, provides partially pre-fabricated walls through automated machinery and software that can minimize cost by 45 percent and reduce labor time by 10x while simplifying installation.
  • Techstyle Materials, based in Somerville, MA, is creating smart multifunctional construction materials that can enhance building sustainability through increased energy efficiency, comfort and durability.

“Greentown Labs’ partnership with Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed has allowed us to attract innovators and entrepreneurs who are poised to disrupt the built environment value chain,” said Emily Reichert, Chief Executive Officer, Greentown Labs. “Through our multi-year partnership, we have combined our resources and expertise to provide an invaluable opportunity to the InNOVAte 2019 startups in addition to our existing member community. We are proud of the progress the participants have made and eager to see their innovations positively impact the industry.”

Katherine MacDonald, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at Greentown Labs, moderated the panel discussion, which focused on participants’ experiences in the 6-month accelerator program, the challenges faced along the way, how Saint-Gobain and Greentown Labs supported them, the value of this strategic partnership, their advice for other start-ups and what the future holds for their businesses.

In addition to the panel discussion, the event addressed the waste and workforce issues that continue to challenge the manufacturing and construction industries, and how strategic partnerships that focus on being lean, agile, customer-centric and green are leading the charge in the built environment of tomorrow, highlighted in remarks from chief executives.

“We have a responsibility to do better for the environment, and an opportunity to do better for people – not only for those who work in construction and manufacturing, but for everyone who lives, works, plays, heals and learns in buildings where our solutions are used,” said Mark Rayfield, CEO of Saint-Gobain North America and CertainTeed.

According to Rayfield, disruptive innovations, like those presented by the participants of the InNOVAte 2019 Challenge, have the potential to make a large impact but often aren’t carried from seed stage to market due to a lack of funds, experience or connections.

“Saint-Gobain has seen first-hand the difference these ideas and innovations can make, when backed by a more experienced and established organization,” he said. “That’s why we invest in strategic partnerships that help equip small businesses with the tools needed to grow.”

“These partnerships are impactful for both the mentors and organizations involved, as well as the participants who are taking part in the journey,” said Todd DiNoia, Vice President of Research and Development at CertainTeed. “As a group, we were reminded of the importance of being agile and focusing our efforts on the future rather than the present; and most importantly, we were reminded of the importance of grit and perseverance.” 

To learn more about the InNOVAte Challenge, visit: https://www.nova-saint-gobain.com/en/innovate-2019-challenge.

Click here for hi-res versions of images from the event along with descriptions and photo credits.



About the InNOVAte Challenge

The InNOVAte Challenge is focused on developing emerging technologies to enable new value within the residential (single and multi-family homes) and the commercial building value chains across North America. The challenge allows entrepreneurs and innovators to receive support and guidance in launching a successful venture.

The inaugural InNOVAte Challenge attracted more than 110 applications from across the globe. Submissions were reviewed by a diverse panel and narrowed down to 12 finalists based on the startup’s ability to disrupt the built environment value chain. On May 30, at the InNOVAte Challenge Kickoff, the 12 finalists participated in a lightning pitch round and presented their ideas to a panel of judges and audience members for selection into the accelerator program. The four start-ups chosen for the class of 2019 received intensive business training, hands-on mentorship from industry experts, Saint-Gobain North America, CertainTeed and Greentown Labs, and a unique approach to startup and corporate relationship building.

All participants in the program received:

  • $25,000 in grant funding
  • Acceptance into Greentown Launch, a 6-month accelerator program
  • Exclusive access to Greentown Labs’ and Saint-Gobain’s networks
  • Access to Saint-Gobain testing capabilities, technical facilities and expertise
  • Desk space at the Greentown Labs Global Center for Cleantech Innovation

About Greentown Labs

Greentown Labs is a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating solutions for today’s biggest climate and environmental challenges. Located in Somerville, Massachusetts, and founded in 2011, the Greentown Labs Global Center for Cleantech Innovation is the largest cleantech incubator in North America, operating a 100,000 sq. ft. campus comprised of prototyping and wet lab space, shared office space, a machine shop, electronics lab, and a curated suite of programs and resources. Greentown Labs is home to more than 90 startups and has supported more than 230 startups since its inception. These startups have collectively created more than 2,800 direct jobs and have raised more than $750 million in funding. The incubator’s mission is to provide entrepreneurs with the community, resources, and space they need to thrive. For more information, please visit www.greentownlabs.com or on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

About Saint-Gobain NOVA

NOVA, Saint-Gobain’s External Ventures arm, is dedicated to fostering partnerships with startups, incubators, and venture capital funds all over the world. Since 2006, NOVA identifies forward-thinking startups whose philosophies align with Saint-Gobain’s focus on well-being and sustainability and connects these startups with the resources and experience of Saint-Gobain. Besides the initiation of all kinds of partnerships NOVA is pursuing opportunities to invest in strategically relevant start-ups. See www.nova-saint-gobain.com

About CertainTeed

CertainTeed Corporation is a North American manufacturer of building materials for both commercial and residential construction and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain.  CertainTeed® is a leading brand of exterior and interior building products, including roofing, siding, fence, decking, railing, trim, insulation, gypsum and ceilings.  CertainTeed and its affiliates have more than 6,300 employees and more than 60 manufacturing facilities throughout the United States and Canada.  Learn more about CertainTeed by visiting www.certainteed.com.

About Saint-Gobain in North America

Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest building materials companies and manufacturer of innovative material solutions, helps create great living spaces by combining comfort and sustainability. For more than three-and-a-half centuries, Saint-Gobain has been enhancing the wellbeing of people everywhere, whether it’s by addressing climate change, delivering true sustainable development, advancing the information revolution, participating in medical breakthroughs or playing a vital role in space exploration. In North America, Saint-Gobain has approximately 160 locations and more than 15,000 employees. In the United States and Canada, Saint-Gobain reported sales of approximately $6.1 billion in 2017. Learn more about Saint-Gobain North America by visiting www.saint-gobain-northamerica.com and connect with Saint-Gobain North America on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.



Brownstein Group on behalf of Saint-Gobain NOVA

Deepika Subbiah


Office: 215-735-3470 ext. 178

Cell: 862-812-3131


Greentown Labs Media Contact:

Julia Travaglini


Office: 888-954-6836 ext. 1

Cell: 603-867-3657


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