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.

Nick Deraney

External Ventures Analyst

San Francisco, United States

Nick Deraney

Based in San Francisco, Nick is focused on establishing West Coast relationships within the sustainability realm.  Prior to NOVA, Nick has worked for several Business Units within Saint-Gobain, with roles in Marketing, Engineering, Program Management, and Talent Management. 

Nick holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 

In his free time, Nick enjoys traveling, cooking, and listening to live music.
 

Europe

Claude-Sébastien Lerbourg

Manager of External Ventures in Europe

Paris, France

Claude-Sébastien Lerbourg

Claude is in charge of the NOVA team in Europe, he helps structure collaborations between Saint-Gobain businesses and startups in Europe. 

Before joining the NOVA team in Europe, Claude was in charge of the NOVA team in Asia for 3 years, he also worked for 9 years at Saint-Gobain Abrasives in China. He started as a product engineer for construction products and spent 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 hold an MBA from China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and graduated from the ESSEC Business School in France. He also studied the Chinese language at Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) in China and is fluent in Chinese with full professional proficiency.

His hobbies include photography, aeronautics, and fine wine.

Clara MARTINY

External Ventures Project Manager

Paris, France

Clara MARTINY

Based in Paris, Clara focuses on startups in Mobility. Prior to joining NOVA, she started her career in Private Equity at Cathay Capital in Paris, where she was in charge on screening and evaluating investments. She then joined Early Metrics, a startup rating agency in London & Shanghai and was responsible for startup evaluation and international expansion.

Clara holds a Master in Management from ESCP Business School in Paris and is fluent in Chinese.

In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, piano and coding.

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 focuses on circular economy startups to build strategic partnerships with Saint-Gobain’s companies. She also helps monitor general market trends and startup ecosystems.

 

Daphné joined the team after a year of work-study during her Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship and Business Management at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. She graduated top of her class and wrote a thesis examining how collaborations 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 

Colleen Schutte

Analyst

Paris, France

Colleen Schutte

Based in Paris, Colleen focuses across a range of technologies to identify opportunities and build strategic partnerships between startups and Saint-Gobain’s businesses.

 

With a background in law studies, Colleen passed the Paris Bar in 2019 and holds an MSc in Entrepreneurship from HEC and Polytechnique. Her master's thesis examined the intergration of ESG criterias in the venture capital practice.

 

In her spare time she enjoys hiking, traveling and historical literature.

 

  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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