“We choose to go to the moon and do these other things…
not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
– John F. Kennedy, Rice University, 12 September 1962
In her fifth book, Mariana Mazzucato posits that solving complex problems such as global warming, pollution, dementia, obesity, gun violence and mobility, all within the timeframe of one generation, is hard but not impossible. She draws parallels to the journey kickstarted by US President Kennedy around 60 years ago, to put astronauts on the moon by the end of that decade. She argues that solving the massive challenges ahead requires using mission-oriented thinking that redefines what is currently casually (and often disdainfully) referred to as public-private partnerships.
Mazzucato identifies two key factors that are essential to making this work:
First is acknowledging that complex problems are hard to solve. Put differently, the issue with easy solutions to complex problems is that they seldom work. At the time of Kennedy’s speech, many technologies required to put humans on the moon, and get them safely back to earth, did not even exist on the drawing board. The road to developing the required gear and knowledge proved to be bumpy and painful, as witnessed by the death of three astronauts who perished during a launch rehearsal.
The second is accepting that we must think beyond the traditional boundaries of state and private enterprise. Again, the US Apollo program exemplifies a successful collaboration between the public and private sectors. NASA’s experts wrote and managed many private contracts awarded to Bell Labs, Motorola, David Clark, and others. According to Mazzucato, advances in biosciences would not be possible even today without the massive leadership of state entities such as the National Institute of Health (NIH). This, in turn, requires that public servants don’t forfeit their knowledge leadership.
Mazzucato’s Mission Economy was on ALP’s summer reading list this year because of the parallels to how important it is to be on the right side of the digital divide (the side of innovation) where Mazzucato defines “moonshots”, as projects and even visions, that will not only help society but will spur innovation into new realms.
Fast forward to today’s investment challenges, and entrepreneurial-led innovation is the one common and consistent thread of alpha generation for investors across all cycles of macroeconomic conditions. It is this recognition that has helped define a core investment theme at ALP with a focus on the “knowledge economy” comprising exposure to the transformative opportunities enabled by software and technology.
For more information please do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can order the book at Amazon
Note that this is not an affiliate link, i.e., ALP is not profiting from book sales.