The rest of the 50 (in alphabetical order): Benjamin Price, external ventures manager, Saint-Gobain Nova

Benjamin Price joined France-headquartered glass maker Saint-Gobain’s US-based corporate venture capital (CVC) arm, Nova, in March 2018 as an associate venture manager before ascending to external ventures manager 17 months after, “which is not the norm at this 350-plus year-old company,” said Laura (Lesker) Plunkett, director of external ventures strategy for the unit.

She added: “Ben quickly became my go-to colleague and thought partner. He has a remarkable ability to quickly create a landscape of a space, source high quality dealflow, and make – and keep – relationships.

“Perhaps most impressive is his unwavering positivity. When deals got challenging, he showed great perspective and resilience…He has the ability to ask tough questions in a direct, but friendly way that moves deals forward.”

Startups are still an important part of the 354-year-old company’s focus, led by the 10-person Nova team that supports collaboration and strategic investment in emerging companies aligned with Saint-Gobain’s business strategy. Price focuses on construction technology, innovative building materials and other disruptions to the construction value chain and built environment.

Liaising between portfolio companies and the corporate parent to solve challenges is a priority for Nova according to Price, who said: “One example of this is our investment and partnership with Unity Homes. As the concept of prefab or factory built single-family homes becomes more widely adopted, Saint-Gobain is collaborating with, learning about and driving innovation in the space.

“Another example would be our relationship with Sweeten, a platform that connects home and small business owners who have renovation needs with architects, interior designers and general contractors. For Saint-Gobain, it represents a connection down the value chain to the end-user [homeowner].”

Before joining Nova, Price worked as a strategy consultant at professional services firms PricewaterhouseCoopers and Accenture, while he undertook a “micro-micro fund” in his free time for funding family-and-friend-staged startup companies.

He said: “The idea was to split a small share of very early-stage investments between a group of investors. The combination of my interest in developing corporate strategy, paired with my analysing and investing in innovative startup companies led me to CVC. I see CVC as the ideal field at the crossroads of strategy, innovation, research and development and venture capital.”

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.