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2024 Power 100: Mike O’Kronley

A man in a zip-up grey sweater stands in a modern office Photo | Courtesy of Ascend Elements Mike O'Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements
Mike O’Kronley  Title CEO Company Ascend Elements, in Westborough and Novi, Michigan Employees 400 Residence Westborough College University of Michigan Read all the Power 100 profiles here
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Ascend Elements, once a Worcester green technology startup that in the last two years has grown its workforce 500%, appears unstoppable as a leader in recycling elements of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Mike O’Kronley was raised in the auto industry hub of Detroit and started his career in that sector. With an engineering background, he recognized how crucial lithium-ion batteries would be in the future of automobiles, and pivoted to work in strategy for a large battery manufacturer. Eventually, he’d invest in Ascend, which was then Battery Resourcers, and become CEO in 2020.

On April 9, O’Kronley announced the effort to move Ascend to its second continent, partnering with Elemental Strategic Metals of Poland to build two EV battery material extraction facilities in Germany and Poland, due to come online in 2026. These facilities are in addition to the $1-billion manufacturing facility the company is constructing in Kentucky, where Ascend is planning a secondary $65-million facility with partner SK ecoplant of South Korea.

Ascend has raised more than $704 million in equity investments in the last 12 months, including a $542 million funding round in September. Meanwhile, Ascend has outgrown its U.S. corporate headquarters and R&D facility in Westborough, and plans to move operations about 30 miles northwest to Devens in September.

Founded at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2015, Ascend had just 11 employees in 2021. In addition to Massachusetts operations, Ascend operates manufacturing and production facilities in Georgia, Michigan, and soon, Kentucky, employing 400. Named a Top 10 GreenTech Company of 2024 by TIME Magazine, Ascend aims for a 90% carbon footprint reduction in its EV battery material by 2030.

Read all the Power 100 profiles here.

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