Driving Down Electric Avenue: A New Route to an Oil-Independent World?
Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place (by video)
Michael Granoff, Head of Oil Independence Policies and President, Maniv Energy Capital
2010 Asper Award Honorees.
Shai Agassi is the founder and chief executive of Better Place, the leading electric vehicle services provider. He is focused on one of this century's biggest challenges, moving the world from oil-based to sustainable transportation. Agassi works with government leaders, auto manufacturers, energy companies and others to make his vision-zero-emission vehicles powered by electricity from renewable sources-a reality in countries around the globe.
This vision was inspired by a profound question posed at the World Economic Forum in 2005, "How do you make the world a better place by 2020?" With a passion for tackling large-scale challenges, Agassi sought to answer this question with a pragmatic solution to free cars from oil, reduce harmful tailpipe emissions, and usher in an era of sustainable transportation.
Agassi founded Better Place and, in 2007, officially launched the company. In 2008, Israel became the first country--and The Renault-Nissan Alliance the first carmaker--to embrace the Better Place model of building open network infrastructure to enable mass adoption of electric vehicles and delivering transportation as a sustainable service. Denmark, Australia, California, Hawaii, and Ontario have followed suit. Today, Agassi and Better Place are in discussions with many countries, carmakers and other potential partners around the globe.
Agassi's visionary leadership with the Better Place model has been recognized widely. TIME Magazine named him to the 2009 TIME 100, the world's 100 most influential people, and one of TIME's "Heroes of the Environment 2008." Fast Company placed him third on its "100 Most Creative People in Business" list. Most recently, Scientific American Magazine named him to the 2009 Scientific American 10, a select group of 10 people who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity.
Before founding Better Place, Agassi was president of the Products and Technology Group at SAP AG and a member of the software company's executive board. He led global development of SAP's product line and portfolio of industry-specific solutions.
Agassi remains an active member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum, where he focuses on climate change, transportation and other key issues. He is also a member of the Copenhagen Climate Council and the advisory board of the Corporate Eco Forum.
Michael Granoff founded Maniv Investments, LLC., parent of Maniv Bioventures and Maniv Energy Capital, in 1997.
Granoff, as president of Maniv Energy Capital, was one of the first investors in Israel's electric car project, Better Place, led by Shai Agassi. Better Place is the highest funded greentech start up in history ($200m), which aims to build a profitable electric car charging infrastructure. Based in California, Better Place's first two projects are in Israel and Denmark.
Prior to founding Maniv, Mr. Granoff served on as a national constituency coordinator for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and implemented information strategies for his family¹s apparel manufacturing business. Since 1985 he has co-managed Val d¹Or Farms, which breeds and races trotting and pacing horses throughout the US and Canada.
He is on the boards of several non-profit organizations including SAFE (Securing America's Future Energy), Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, a division of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Kesher: the Community Synagogue of Tenafly and Englewood.
Mr. Granoff received his B.A. from Tufts University and his J.D. and M.B.A. Northwestern University and its Kellogg School of Management, and is a member of the Bars of New York and New Jersey. In addition to harness racing, Mr. Granoff's interests include running (having completed 20,000 miles and 20 marathons since 1990) and the American musical theater.