Get to know the people who make our work and your dreams possible.

With team members based on four continents, NOVA helps to unlock innovation potential around the world, working collaboratively with startups as a strategic partner to connect them with the resources, support and expertise they need to succeed.

Leadership

Minas Apelian

Vice-President of Internal and External Venturing

Philadelphia, United States

Minas Apelian

Since 2014, Minas leads and shapes Saint-Gobain External and Internal Ventures teams helping to drive innovation strategy for the business.

Minas holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering from MIT. He has authored a number of papers and is an inventor or co-inventor on 18 patents.

Personally, he is an avid wine enthusiast and foodie.

North America

Sven Harmsen

Director of External Ventures

Boston, United States

Sven Harmsen

Sven leads Saint-Gobain NOVA North America. In this role, Sven is responsible for driving NOVA’s growth strategy in alignment with overall corporate engagement and investments in startup companies.

Sven holds a Ph.D. in Natural Sciences, with a focus on Chemistry, from the Julius-Maximilians-University in Wuerzburg, Germany. He completed post-doctoral work at Stanford University.

Fluent in English and German, he currently lives in the greater Boston area.

Outside of work, he enjoys outdoor activities like kayaking, sailing, hiking and spending time with his family.

Ben Price

External Ventures Project Manager

Boston, United States

Ben Price

Ben focuses primarily on construction tech, innovative building materials and other disruptions to the construction value chain and built environment. Motivated to build strategic partnerships between startups and Saint-Gobain’s family of companies, Ben is interested in both digital and physical innovations.

Prior to NOVA, Ben worked in strategy consulting within innovation and product development and ran a micro-venture investment fund. Ben graduated from Union College with a Bachelor’s of Science and Arts in Economics and Psychology. His continuing education included an exchange program on Applied Economics at the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

Outside of work, Ben is a member of the Caritas Communities Young Leader Board and Flying Kites Board of Ambassadors. He enjoys travelling, skiing and is a Boston sports fan.

Robin Milshtein

External Ventures Project Manager

San Francisco, United States

Robin Milshtein

Robin is based in San Francisco. In her role, she is focused on startups with advance materials. Prior to joining the external ventures team, Robin worked for several businesses within the High Performance Solutions sector, with roles in R&D, business development, and strategic marketing.

Robin holds a M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Union College.

Robin enjoys outdoor activities, traveling, and learning about new things.

Adarsh Sowcar

External Ventures Project Manager

Boston, United States

Adarsh Sowcar

Adarsh focuses on a wide range of technology areas to identify & building strategic partnerships between startups & Saint-Gobain’s Life Sciences, Supply Chain & Adfors Business Units.

Prior to joining Saint-Gobain, Adarsh worked in various Product Management & Marketing Strategy roles with Kennametal, InVue Inc & Saint-Gobain India. Adarsh holds an MBA from Hult International Business School in Boston & Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University in India. Outside of work, Adarsh enjoys learning history, cooking for his family & exploring nature.

Europe

Zahia TOUTOU-MELINGE

Senior External Ventures & Business Development Manager

Paris, France

Zahia TOUTOU-MELINGE

Based in Paris, Zahia seeks the best startups from all over the world to build strategic partnerships with Saint-Gobain’s construction products' family of companies for mutual growth. She focuses on innovative solutions to increase the comfort and well-being of building occupants, to bring ergonomics and comfort for people who build as well as innovative solutions to gain productivity at job sites.

Prior to joining NOVA team, Zahia worked for more than 12 years at Saint-Gobain construction products’ companies in France and UK, leading Research, Developing and implementing new solutions with a strong cooperation with Marketing, purchasing and operations in a multinational environment. Prior joining Saint-Gobain she has worked for 11 years in academic Labs running Research and Lecturing in Algeria and France.

Zahia holds an Engineer Degrees in Civil Engineering at Algerian University and a PhD degree in Civil Engineering Materials from INSA de Rennes in France. She has authored a number of papers on Rheology of cement based materials and generated 10 patents as inventors or co-inventor within Saint-Gobain.

Zahia is fluent in 4 languages. Outside of work, she enjoys oriental dancing, mountains hiking and cooking.

Claude-Sébastien Lerbourg

External Ventures Project Manager

Paris, France

Claude-Sébastien Lerbourg

Claude helps structure collaborations between Saint-Gobain businesses and startups in Asia. 

Before joining the NOVA team, Claude worked for nearly 10 years at Saint-Gobain Abrasives in China. He started as a product engineer for construction products and spent the last four years as the automotive aftermarket business manager, leading the sales and product teams to adapt and import high-end solutions for this market.

Claude graduated from the ESSEC Business School in France. He studied the Chinese language at Shanghai International Studies University in China and is fluent with full professional proficiency.

His hobbies include photography and aeronautics, but he spends most of his free time going out with friends and meeting new people.

Raphaël Lanté

External Ventures Project Manager

Paris, France

Raphaël Lanté

Located in Paris, Raphaël focuses on building strategic partnerships in the field of sensors and connected objects. He has worked in product development for various businesses within Saint-Gobain’s family of companies, bringing multiple products to the market, from flat-coated glass patterned by laser to fiberglass with nanoscale coatings.

He holds a M.Sc. degree in Chemistry from CPE Lyon.

Raphaël is fluent in four languages, thanks to his professional experiences abroad. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling and cooking for his family.

Jonathan Bainée

External Ventures Project Manager

Paris, France

Jonathan Bainée

Jonathan identifies new opportunities for collaborations between startups and Saint-Gobain’s family of companies with a focus on the digital consumer journey and the wide range of technologies building performance and well-being.

Before joining NOVA, Jonathan worked as a lecturer at the engineering school ENSTA ParisTech and for a French public organization dedicated to the promotion of photonics technologies and industries.

Jonathan holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Paris-Sorbonne University, where he studied technical and business model issues applied to cleantech, especially in transport.

He enjoys taking road trips to explore countries around the world.

  LinkedIn 

Daphné de La Grandière

Analyst

Paris, France

Daphné de La Grandière

Based in Paris, Daphné has a dual responsibility. She evaluate and initiate collaborations with startups operating with circular economy. And in second plan, she has an analyst role and must therefore monitor market trends and the ecosystem of startups. 

Daphné joined the team after a year of work-study during her Master 2 in Entrepreneurship and Business Management at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. She graduated at the top of her class and wrote a thesis to understand how collaboration between large groups and start-ups can contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of large construction companies.

Daphné is very curious, she likes to discover new people, new cultures and learn continuously.

  LinkedIn 

Asia-Pacific

Shuang Liu

External Ventures Project Manager

Shanghai, China

Shuang Liu

Based in Shanghai, Shuang focuses on building strategic relations between Saint-Gobain businesses and startups in the Asia-Pacific region.

Prior to joining NOVA, Shuang worked for more than 8 years for Saint-Gobain North America, providing innovative technologies and products serving the construction market and the oil and gas industry. Her most recent role was the R&D Director for CertainTeed Architectural Solutions group, formerly CertainTeed Ceilings.

Shuang holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and M.S. and B.S. diplomas from Fudan University in Shanghai.

Shuang enjoys photography, travelling, and cooking with families and friends outside of work.

Jing Zhou

External Ventures Associate Project Manager

Shanghai, China

Jing Zhou

Based in Shanghai, Jing focuses across a range of technologies to identify opportunities and build strategic partnerships between startups and Saint-Gobain’s family of companies.

Prior to NOVA, Jing started her career in the role of management trainee with Metro Group where she worked in different business functions in China and also worked in Corporate innovation in Germany, she enjoyed connecting the dots among corporate, business units and entrepreneurs.

Jing holds a Master in International Management from Audencia Nantes Business School in France, before that, she got her Bachelor degree in German language and Literature from Nanjing Tech University, China.

In her spare time, Jing enjoys travelling, exploring new cities and meeting new people.

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