After its successful launch on June 26, 2013, the JFK Atlantic Forum is moving steadily to add substance both to its structure and its initial program.
Our first event in 2014 was Expanding Entrepreneurship: Capitalizing on German-American Synergy with a keynote by the U.S. Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson and a panel discussion with representatives of Berlin’s Entrepreneurial Community.
We have also launched the Entrepreneurs Program to the United States and currently seek applications from young entrepreneurs in Germany.
Our Mission statement notes: “The basic goal of the JFK Forum will be to tap (Berlin’s growing entrepreneurial) spirit by bringing leaders of business, government and academia together with entrepreneurs to create a new sort of trans-Atlantic dialogue.”
In other words, we are neither a traditional friendship organization, nor are we focused solely on networking across business and government lines.
Our goal is to focus the creative energy of entrepreneurs to help build a stronger risk and reward culture across the Atlantic. By creating stronger trans-Atlantic entrepreneurial links, we hope to add a dynamic new element to the existing Atlantic community.
We are also not concerned solely with issues in Berlin. We have chosen Berlin as a launching pad because of its special relevance to Germany and America and in particular to the visions of John F. Kennedy.
Our goal will be to use Berlin’s growing vitality as an action-forcing venue to bring together entrepreneurs from Europe and across the Atlantic to help redesign our thinking.
A simple formula illustrates our method:
Just as Innovation is the practical application of Invention;
So too is Entrepreneurship the practical embodiment of Western values and Free market Society.
President Obama stated the case eloquently in Berlin on June 19: Peace with justice means free enterprise that unleashes the talents and creativity that reside in each of us.
Ollie Rehn, EU Finance Commissioner, stated recently at a conference in Helsinki: Europe’s most important need is to build competitiveness, stimulate innovation and release the entrepreneurial drive which is now suppressed within the structures of the EU.
Both Commissioner Rehn and President Obama highlighted the urgent need to “stimulate and release” the innovative talents of Atlantic society. A widespread sense of trans-Atlantic malaise underscores the need for the sort of new vitality which entrepreneurs are especially adept at producing. President Obama warned against what he saw as a new danger of complacency among Western democracies. And he added: “I come here today, Berlin, to say complacency is not the character of great nations. “
The goal of the John F. Kennedy Atlantic Forum will be to demonstrate how the principles of entrepreneurship can contribute to overcoming the complacency which worried the President. We will use the concept of “Thinking and Doing,” as a means to combine the ambition and creativity of entrepreneurs, with the goals of government and academia. Our goal will be to help design new methods to deal with some of our most important tasks.
“Thinking and doing” means that we will go beyond discussion to organize hands-on approaches. We will use lectures, open discussions, master classes by experienced entrepreneurs, and design workshops among stakeholders in the new networked economy. These workshops will be goal-focused to ensure that they can go beyond discussion and can help redesign existing ways of doing things. We hope that both established corporations as well as new start-up enterprises will avail themselves of this opportunity at deep down investigation of issues of importance to them.
The framework for these efforts will be provided by the John F. Kennedy Atlantic Forum, as program organizer and the European School for Management and Technology as venue and institutional home. JFKAF will also draw upon the students and faculty of ESMT for ideas, inspiration and participation in the program of thinking and doing. We will expand our reach through cooperation with partner organizations. An important first step will be to work with the American Council on Germany on trans-Atlantic exchanges among entrepreneurs.
In the meantime, we will bring our structures in working order. Our web site is in operation. Right now it presents many wonderful photos from the June 26 events. But we are hard at work transforming it into an interactive platform which will allow us to build links to entrepreneurs across the globe. We are also recruiting additional volunteers to work on programs with our colleagues at ESMT.
Despite this volunteer spirit, the JFKAF will of course also be dependent on further sponsor support to expand our operations. Our operational philosophy is one of openness and inclusiveness. We welcome all who are interested and will be pleased to work with those who wish to carry about projects within our framework.
The JFK Atlantic forum was established as a framework for persons and organization of all types, from multinationals to start-ups, who share the spark of energy and creativity which makes free markets work. Their ideas will in the end define who we are and where we want to go.
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills …”