- French multinational corporation Saint-Gobain announced Ecovative Design and 10x Technology as the co-winners of its 2015 NOVA Innovation Competition during the Greenbuild conference Wednesday.
- The two startups each received $37,500 for winning the competition. The third-place prize and the community award — voted on by Saint-Gobain employees — were both awarded to US Bionics, which went home with a total of $25,000.
- The winners were chosen from a group of eight finalists — also including Alumina Energy, Bitfinder, In'Air Solutions, Melodea and q-bot — after the startups pitched their ideas to Saint-Gobain senior executives during the Greenbuild conference.
The contest aims to "reward start-ups offering the most innovative solutions in the field of habitat, sustainable products, advanced materials, renewable energy sources and high-efficiency building solutions," according to organizers. Saint-Gobain received 270 applications from 27 countries.
- 10x Technology produces "high value-added micro-structured and nanostructured materials, notably polymers, for medical, energy, electronics, transportation, defense or habitat markets."
- Ecovative design processes biological and agricultural products into "biocomposite foam materials used especially for packaging and insulation."
- US Bionics creates lightweight exoskeleton suits designed to reduce the muscle force required for construction work by 50%, thereby reducing injuries and stress to workers' shoulders, lower backs, and legs.
Earlier this month, Minas Apelian, who oversees NOVA and is the vice president of R&D, quality and external venturing at Saint-Gobain, said construction has been "a very traditional industry, with conservative spending, but it's ripe for disruptive technologies and services that can change the construction market."
Construction-related startups have seen major investor interest recently. Technology startup Uptake reached a $1.1 billion valuation after raising $45 million from investors, including heavy equipment giant Caterpillar. On the same day as Uptake's funding announcement, Fieldwire, a startup offering mobile and web platform services for construction projects, announced it had secured $6.6 million in Series A financing. And BuildingConnected, a construction bid management platform startup, recently announced it raised $8.5 million in Series A.