Electric car pioneers marry profit with purpose
Shai Agassi and Michael Granoff receive 2010 Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship at Brandeis International Business School
Entrepreneur Shai Agassi and investor Michael Granoff of electric vehicle firm Better Place shared how they are redefining the transportation industry in pursuing their vision for an oil-independent world. In a keynote address at Brandeis International Business School, they outlined plans for deploying electric car systems in Israel, Denmark, and Australia; with Japan, the U.S., and Canada to follow.
Agassi, the firm’s CEO, spoke by video on the importance of applying business principles toward solving social ills. He also revealed his philosophy as a serial entrepreneur: “I’m an ‘imagineer’…I imagine a future and then engineer a way to find it.” In speaking of the electric vehicle enterprise, Granoff added, “to make it sustainable, you’ll also need to make it profitable.”
Inspired at the World Economic Forum, Better Place has attracted significant media attention for its innovative approach towards building adoption of electric cars. Considered to be among the best funded clean technology firms, their plans call for building a network of charge spots and battery switching stations which will allow consumers to easily afford and drive electric vehicles thereby minimizing the environmental impact of their driving.
At a dinner ceremony honoring the pair, they were presented with the 2010 Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship in recognition of exemplary citizenship, innovation and creativity in the global marketplace. Canadian media executive Leonard J. Asper '86, founder of the Asper Center for Global Entrepreneurship, presented the award.
Asper founded the center which explores the contributions of entrepreneurship in different professions across borders. The Asper Center provides an array of learning experiences through courses, seminars, internships, business plan competitions, field visits and meetings with global entrepreneurs.
Last year’s Asper Award winner was Linda Rottenberg, CEO and CO-Founder of Endeavor Global.