Saint-Gobain // Universal Registration Document 2021

2 Strategy The action: a strategic plan based on six priorities SAINT-GOBAIN UNIVERSAL REGISTRATION DOCUMENT 2021 57 Placing innovation at the heart of Saint-Gobain’s model The Group has consistently placed research and innovation at the heart of its strategy. Nearly 400 patents are filed every year by Saint-Gobain. This approach covers all of Saint-Gobain’s activities, from off-site construction to innovative types of glass – such as electrochromic glass for buildings and vehicles – to solar roof panels, light construction, laboratories dedicated to research on the use of residential areas, 3-D printing and innovation regarding services. The reorganization of Saint-Gobain enables the innovation process to move away from a silo approach, freeing up strong synergies across the Group. In 2021 there are over 20 common global platforms, shared by the business lines targeting industrial customers and those targeting the construction markets, which structure innovation to offer systems and solutions in areas such as specialty materials, sustainable development or digital tools. The centrality of innovation for Saint-Gobain is also reflected in the creation of an innovation department bringing together research and development, corporate marketing and expertise in the innovation process, a department overseen by a Chief Innovation Officer reporting directly to the Group Chief Executive Officer. Saint-Gobain’s efforts focus on research-based innovation, particularly in terms of products and manufacturing processes, but they also apply to other fields, such as innovation in business models and in services. They are guided by several priority areas: For construction markets innovation relates in particular to dynamic and intelligent building materials, as well as advanced technologies such as prefabrication and robotization. Construction solutions through three-dimensional printing (a technology already deployed by the Group in the Netherlands with the support of Saint-Gobain Research Paris, which has applications in residential, industrial and infrastructure sectors) minimize the use of materials, enable more advanced customization possibilities, and an 80% faster construction process. Composite exterior thermal insulation systems, installed on lightweight façade frames, combine within the Group the expertise of the construction trades and those of High Performance Solutions. They allow the amount of CO2 to be divided between two and four compared to concrete wall solutions, and represent a weight saving of 85% compared to traditional walls, with the corresponding gains in terms of speed and safety during installation. For mobility, innovation helps improve vehicle comfort (noise, vibration, aerodynamics, thermal comfort, etc.), reduces the overall weight of the vehicle, and enables the development of new features and uses in terms of safety, information and entertainment. Lightweight windows allow a 4% increase in the range of electric vehicles. In industry, the objective is to innovate in manufacturing processes in order to reduce their environmental footprint, for example the transition to low-carbon energy, heat recovery, or the design of “zero carbon” plants; in distribution, for example, we are talking about the design of integrated services for craftsmen or project managers and project owners, in construction or renovation projects. Capitalizing on Saint-Gobain’s diversity, involving all employees Innovation is one of the five “Attitudes”, pillars of the management culture of Saint-Gobain (see chapter 3, section 4.1.1). Being open-minded and thinking outside the box, taking original paths, questioning practices inherited from the past to suggest and experiment with new ones: these are some of the skills valued for all Saint-Gobain’s employees. Saint-Gobain therefore sees innovation as both an objective and a way of bringing the entire organization together around a common mindset, by aiming to: create the conditions for creativity by encouraging the ■ permanent detection of opportunities to solve problems encountered by the Group’s customers and respond to them with new solutions; relearn the processes that facilitate creativity; the ■ challenge here is to give freedom to divergent thinking, while remaining focused on the rapid production of results, in an agile manner; explore all innovation pathways, not only the initiatives ■ conducted by research and development and marketing teams, but also intrapreneurship approaches and collaboration with external entities (companies, public organizations, or research structures) in an atmosphere of co-development and open innovation. Approaching innovation in ecosystem mode: open innovation and co-innovation To complement its in-house capabilities, Saint-Gobain has been deploying its innovative approach through exchanges and partnerships around the world with its customers and suppliers, with an ecosystem of start-ups and via scientific collaborations and partnerships with the academic world. Scientific and academic cooperation The SUN international network of universities is the framework for long-term academic collaboration that provide access to the most recent scientific advances in the fields of interest to the Group and to a breeding ground of young talent. More specifically, this leads to the establishment of partnerships with various institutions in the fields of data science and artificial intelligence. Open innovation and cooperation with start-ups Through NOVA, a unique structure created in 2006, Saint-Gobain plays an active role within the global start-up ecosystem. NOVA aims to enable disruptive innovation by identifying opportunities for long-term partnerships and turning these into a reality. It also favour the development of new ideas and business models.