Interesting. We??e written about Better Place, the electric vehicle services provider, before (see, for instance, this piece from last year and, after the jump, a video interview with founder Shai Agassi from a few months ago.)
In August, Better Place was awarded the prestigious, 100,000 Euro ??NDEX?design award. Now, the company has decided to put its winnings toward a design competition of its own. And to do so, it turned to BusinessWeek’s list of the World’s Best Design Schools. The challenge? To ask students from those schools to design a prototype for a next-generation, hands-free electric-car charging infrastructure (left shows a picture of the distinctly wired recharging system that currently exists.)
Ten finalists will be given 3,000 Euros to develop their ideas beyond a paper proposal. One final winner will receive a further 35,000 Euros to build a working prototype.
So where does this leave Better Place’s regular design collaborator, NewDealDesign, which won for its Better Place work only this year at the International Design Excellence Awards. “We definitely are still working with them,” said Better Place spokesperson Julie Mullins in a phone conversation. “But this is much more about being able to give back and do a project that’s fun and exciting for all of us. And it’s a way to give people the means and actual funding so they can do a competition like this and challenge themselves.”
And the idea that they’re tapping young talent for cheap work? “It’s not about getting free work,” said Mullins. “We have brilliant teams of engineers and design folks; it wasn’t about that at all. It was being able to use the 100,000 Euros we won from the Index Award and give back in a fun way that will advance our movement toward sustainable mobility.”
Here's Energy and Environment Editor, Adam Aston's interview with Better Place CEO, Shai Agassi: