In 1962, in one of the most famous speeches of all time, President Kennedy persuaded the American people of the importance of going to the Moon before the end of the decade. In July of 1969, the Apollo 11 mission successfully landed on the Moon. Today, we see that speech as one of the strongest examples of vision, determination, and an example of America’s golden era.
The Apollo program, all in all, spent 200 billion dollars (in today’s money). This is a very, very low price to pay for the incredible positive outcome we still benefit from today: There are many economic research around this, and the most common return on investment is 7 dollars for each dollar spent over 10 years.
Today, there is no discussion, from left to right, that this program was an anstounding success and established the US as the world leader.
There was another side effect that I found incredibly interesting: The generation that grew up in the 60s was deeply inspired by this feat, and saw thousands of students wanted to pursue Science and Technology careers. The average age of Houston control mission when we landed on the moon was just 26 years. After the program, these professionals went out to add even more value to the world economy.
These thousands of inspired, optimistic, science-driven individuals are now called the “Sons of Apollo”.
This week, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Comission, made a speech at the State of the European Union that launched the foundations for a recovery plan that plans on making Europe the world leader in Biotech, Renewables, Technology, and even democratic values. In total, Europe will invest 880 billion dollars . that’s right: 4 (!) Apollo programs and then some. Just on the Digital front, there is a plan to spend around 177 billion dollars.
This is a massive opportunity with the right foundations, and despite not having the aspirational, tangible vision of landing on the moon, has the scale to produce a new era of Sons of Europe.
Europe is, however, terrible at having a clear, strong message behind an ambitious goal. And this is more important than ever.