Research and innovation are at the heart of Saint-Gobain’s strategy. The Group supports the development of sub-Saharan Africa by providing a range of services and solutions tailored to local demand. Innovation at Saint-Gobain The Top 100 Global Innovators programme identifies the most innovative companies and research structures. The selection is based on four criteria: The success rate of patent applications; The international scope of the patent portfolio; The influence of the patent in terms of the number of citations in the professional literature; and The number of patents. Since 2010, Saint-Gobain has consistently been recognised as one of the 100 most innovative companies in the world among Thomson Reuters’ top 100 Global Innovator Companies. The Group’s strategic growth, combined with the gradual transformation of the habitat and construction markets, has created a spirit of openness and attentiveness to customer needs at Saint-Gobain. To meet customer expectations and anticipate emerging demand, the Group is developing new research skills and fostering a stronger culture of partnership and co-development. Innovation at Saint-Gobain Gyproc The Saint-Gobain Gyproc Research and Development department is located in Brakpan, about 50 km south of Johannesburg (South Africa). With more than 50 years of expertise, it aims at supporting the following three areas of proficiency: New product developments Saint-Gobain always strives to meet market needs. The Research and Development department assists marketing teams with product evaluation and development as well as with adapting systems to local needs. All the new products developed need to achieve high standards of performance in terms of ease of use, comfort and wellbeing for the end user. They also need to meet life cycle analysis requirements (i.e. no negative impact on the environment). Supply chain performance Raw material sourcing strategies are critical to the business. The Research and Development department supports the business through chemical analyses and material testing during the evaluation and qualification of new or alternative raw materials for use in the plaster and plasterboard manufacturing processes. The impact of the extraction, source and use of these raw materials on the environment is assessed at the same time. Operations and process optimisation Operations and process optimisation aim at minimising the cost and use of resources as well as maximising the throughput and/or efficiency of the manufacturing process. The Research and Development team delivers technical support to the plant process teams during product trials and process optimisation projects. Since 2015, Saint-Gobain has been reinforcing its presence in sub-Saharan Africa. To accompany Saint-Gobain’s development in the region, the Research and Development department also supports activities in the Saint-Gobain Gypsum plants in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, through raw material analyses, product testing and plaster formulation development. Innovation at Saint-Gobain Weber Located in Alrode, about 20 km south from Johannesburg (South Africa), the Saint-Gobain Weber Research and Development department was founded in 2013. Its work is focused on tile fixing, flooring, technical mortars, ETICS (External Thermal Insulation Composite System) and facades. Saint-Gobain Weber solutions are developed through extensive research and development and are subject to strict quality control procedures. The department aims at supporting the following four areas of proficiency: Raw materials evaluation; Formulation validation or optimisation to meet standards and customer requirements (eg. optimisation of the basecoat formulation for ETICS); New product development (eg. Weber Floor WB 300, self-levelling screed, specifically for Vinyls, launched in 2015); and Quality compliance, environmental impact and technical assistance. Innovation at Saint-Gobain Isover The local energy crisis has placed the focus firmly on developing new cost-effective and high-efficiency insulation solutions for the technical and building markets. These products provide customers with solutions that enable them to meet and exceed the increasing requirements of legislation, with ever-increasing levels of comfort and energy saving. Working closely with Saint-Gobain’s international research and development teams, the local teams have developed leading solutions for the widest possible range of technically demanding insulation requirements. In future, Saint-Gobain Isover plans to launch a glasswool solution that will deliver excellent performance and improved installation comfort, will be more environmentally friendly and will improve health and wellbeing. To read more: Saint-Gobain Isover invests in research into affordable housing in South Africa Did you know ? At Saint-Gobain, 1 product in 4 sold today was developed in the last 5 years.