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National Innovation Policy

As part of its not-for-profit mission, IQT conducts analyses of the national security implications of emerging technologies. IQT’s history of investing and partnership in the global innovation ecosystem translates into an unparalleled understanding of issues at the intersection of the private sector, technology, and national security, as well as future technology and market trends. IQT offers its analysis and insights on a wide range of issues relevant to national security policy, and recent examples are included below.

Innovation & National Security

Leading Under the Seas: Spurring Innovation in Undersea Enabling Technologies
February 2024
From global communication channels to raw materials for pharmaceuticals, we rely on the world’s oceans for resources that shape our way of life – but we’ve still only scratched the surface. With the vast majority of the seas unexplored, we have much to gain by increasing the rate of research, funding, and innovation in this domain.

IQT Roundtable on the Artificial Intelligence Executive Order
February 2024
IQT held a roundtable discussing the implications of President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. The full impact of this Executive Order has yet to be seen but many have already voiced concerns about how these regulations may slow the development of U.S. AI innovation and disproportionately encumber small-to-medium-sized businesses who do not possess the resources to comply with the regulations put in place. Read about these and other key takeaways from this roundtable discussion.

Amid Crises, Don’t Neglect the War for Technology
November 2023
Technology innovation is a key component of global competition, and the U.S. needs a national vision for sustaining technology leadership. The catalytic role that the United States government once played in this field has been replaced by faith in the private sector to lead future innovation. Dr. Sarah Sewall and Steve Bowsher explain why this approach is detrimental to the development of potentially transformative technologies and what must be done instead if the U.S. hopes to maintain global technology dominance.

China’s BeiDou: New Dimensions of Great Power Competition
February 2023
BeiDou, China’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), illustrates Beijing’s strategic deployment of dual-use technology to enhance China’s geopolitical power—a dynamic that increasingly shapes U.S.-China competition below the threshold of war. IQT authors Dr. Sarah Sewall, Tyler Vandenberg, and Kaj Malden discuss why the U.S. and its international partners should evaluate more closely the effects of global reliance upon BeiDou and associated infrastructure and products. 

CHIPS Needs a Check Engine Light
February 2023
The CHIPS Act made a big splash in 2022 as an important step for re-establishing U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and reshaping the larger U.S. microelectronics ecosystem. Bob Gleichauf explains why the legislation needs a “check engine light” to indicate problems and anticipate challenges – as well as maximize taxpayer return on their CHIPS investment.

The Innovation Wars: America’s Eroding Technological Advantage
March/April 2021
In this article that appeared in Foreign Affairs, Chris Darby and Dr. Sarah Sewall issue a stark warning about China’s promotion of commercial innovation and call on the United States to address the national security implications of emerging dual-use technologies.

When the Chips are Down: Navigating Strengths and Strategic Vulnerabilities in the Semiconductor Industry
March 2021
Watch Eileen Tanghal in a panel discussion hosted by the Wilson Center Science and Technology Innovation Program. Tanghal discusses the growing importance of semiconductors in geopolitical competition and the consequences for the United States and private sector.

National Security Challenges for Microelectronics Video
February 2021
Watch Eileen Tanghal and Dr. Yan Zheng explore IQT’s view that innovation is the key to meeting both competitiveness and security challenges for microelectronics.

National Microelectronics Challenge
February 2021
This policy brief explains IQT’s view that innovation is the key to meeting both competitiveness and security challenges. The paper argues that the nation should address impediments to commercial success in the specific microelectronics technologies that matter most for U.S. security and competitiveness.

The Real Security Innovation Gap
August 2020
In this article appearing on the Lawfare blog, Dr. Sarah Sewall and Michael Vickers identify critical innovation gaps that threaten U.S. security and call for the United States to rethink its approach.

The Unseen Conflict: Strategic Technology Competition
February 2020
Watch Chris Darby testify before the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Subcommittee on Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research in its February 2020 hearing, “Emerging Technologies and National Security: Posturing the US Intelligence Community for Success.” Read his Statement for the Record, The Unseen Conflict: Strategic Technology Competition.

Investment and Innovation in U.S. Intelligence
April 2019
Listen to Chris Darby’s interview with Michael Morell about investment and innovation in the U.S. Intelligence Community on the Intelligence Matters Podcast.

Biotechnology

The biorevolution is here, and the U.S. better be prepared to meet it
November 2023
Dr. Sarah Sewall and Dr. Tara O’Toole’s article in the Washington Examiner delves into the transformative power of biotechnologies in revolutionizing various industries beyond healthcare. Highlighting the potential of engineered biology, the authors discuss its role in addressing global challenges such as sustainability, food security, and energy sources. Emphasizing the need for the United States to take the lead in the biorevolution, the piece examines China’s substantial investments in biotech and urges the U.S. to prioritize funding, infrastructure, and regulatory frameworks to ensure its competitive edge in this crucial technological frontier.

Taking Stock of the U.S. Bioeconomy: What’s Working, What’s Not, and What’s Next
November 2023
Dr. Tara O’Toole appeared on a panel at the CNAS event “Taking Stock of the U.S. Bioeconomy,” reflecting on the national security implications of securing a robust U.S. bioeconomy, the remaining challenges to fully capture its potential, and the steps policymakers should take to strengthen American leadership across the biotech landscape.

Convergence: Ongoing
September 2023
This article published in IEEE by Dan Geer explores how biology and artificial intelligence are on the hunt to solve steering problems that, if viewed in a particular light, are restatements of each other. Value systems, whether democratic, autocratic, or something else, will be the drivers if we remain the captains of our fate; are we, or can we be, intelligent designers?

Needed for national security and competitiveness: a federal biodata infrastructure
February 2023
May 10, 2023 marks the deadline for U.S. government agencies to report the biological data sources critical to U.S. national interests. But what is the government’s role when it comes to biological data? In her new article published by STAT, Dr. Tara O’Toole dives into the importance of biological data and the role the federal government can play in unlocking the potential of public and private biological data to maintain and extend U.S. leadership in the global bioeconomy.

The Biorevolution: Its Implications for U.S. National Security, Economic Competitiveness, and National Power
February 2023
The “Biorevolution” – which is already underway – is the key to creating a more sustainable, greener future and will impact everything from manufacturing to treating diseases. Dr. Tara O’Toole discusses its implications for U.S. national security and economic competitiveness in her latest paper.

Roundtable Report: Identifying, Collecting and Analyzing Actionable Intelligence in an Outbreak Event
January 2023
How can the U.S. satisfy the need for real-time situational awareness during disease outbreaks or other public health emergencies? IQT’s B.Next team convened experts from government agencies, academic, and tech companies in a roundtable to explore the critical data elements, technologies, and analytics needed to generate dynamic situational awareness essential to outbreak management.

Biotechnology and American Competitiveness
June 2021
Watch Dr. Tara O’Toole address biotechnology and American competitiveness in a panel hosted by the Center for a New American Security on June 2, 2021. Dr. O’Toole and her co-panelists discuss how to foster research and innovation, address bioterrorism and biosecurity risks, and strengthen the U.S. bioeconomy in an era of global technology competition.

Biological Threats to U.S. National Security
November 2019
Watch Dr. Tara O’Toole testify before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities at its November 2019 hearing, “Biological Threats to U.S. National Security.” In her testimony, Dr. O’Toole outlines the dynamic biosecurity threat landscape, concluding that the nation needs a robust biodefense system that addresses natural and man-made biothreats and a national biodefense strategy in order to compete with China. Read her Statement for the Record.

China & Global Infrastructure

China Has a Choke Hold on Critical Minerals. Breaking It Will Take New Thinking.
January 2024
Our critical mineral dependency on China is both well documented and notoriously complicated to untangle. In her latest opinion piece, Dr. Sarah Sewall contends that success in achieving critical mineral independence will require a broad range of coordinated efforts, to include a concerted investment in U.S. commercial innovation.

Workshop Report: Cloud, Data Centers, and Great Power Competition
November 2023
Data centers—and the cloud services they enable—power the modern economy. They also are an important arena in the great power competition to provide the world’s digital infrastructure. IQT recently convened industry representatives, foreign policy experts, and government officials for a discussion on market trends, China’s Digital Silk Road, and U.S. policy actions related to cloud computing and data centers.

Workshop Report: Subsea Cables and Great Power Competition
July 2023
Subsea fiber-optic cables are the vital—and vulnerable—information conduits of the global internet. IQT convened subsea cable industry representatives, foreign policy experts, and government officials for a workshop on trends impacting the market, recent geopolitical developments affecting cable security, and current U.S. government initiatives related to cables and other digital infrastructure.

Digital Currency

The Future of Crypto: A Q&A with IQT
March 2022
Watch a Q&A featuring Dr. Sarah Sewall, Bob Gleichauf, and Ming Luo who explore the nature of cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and how these technologies could affect the world economy.

The Geopolitics of Digital Currency
January 2022
On the heels of Federal Reserve discussion of a potential Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), Dr. Sarah Sewall and Ming Luo argue that national security implications of CBDCs must be primary considerations of U.S. policymakers. Read more from the The Geopolitics of Digital Currency paper published by the Belfer Center.

Energy Security

Innovation for Tomorrow’s Electric Grid
March 2023
The U.S. transmission and distribution system is consequential for U.S. national, economic, and energy security, yet it is unprepared for the future. Erin D. Dumbacher and Kaj Malden explore how more breakthrough innovation for the transmission and distribution system is needed to realize the promise of a clean energy transition, meet future national energy demands, and address the vulnerabilities of this critical infrastructure.

Closing the Critical Mineral Gap
February 2023
Critical minerals are essential to modern life but there are 50 critical minerals at high risk of a supply disruption for the U.S. today. Innovation is necessary to help the U.S. reduce its vulnerability to Chinese-dominated supply chains for these minerals. Erin Dumbacher, along with other IQT experts, discusses how innovation could both reduce the demand for and boost the supply of critical minerals in the U.S.

More from IQT

Adapting Net Assessment for the New Cold War
March 2023
The United States is engaged in a battle for technological supremacy with China, and technological advances in the next decade could determine which country gains the upper hand. Michael G. Vickers explores the discipline of net assessment and how it will be essential in understanding the new strategic competition in which we find ourselves.

Importance of Standards to National Security
February 2023
Co-authored by Dan Geer, this Lawfare article explores the interplay of standards and national security and the risks that arise from inattention.

A Plea: The Case for Digital Environmentalism
November 2022
Digital technology, the defining innovation of the last half century, has deep and unaddressed insecurities at its core. This paper from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), co-authored by Dan Geer, argues that a new form of “digital environmentalism”—marked by a re-evaluation of our relationship to technology, growth, and innovation—is the only way to fix such insecurities, and to bring meaningful change to the digital world.

Disinformation Workshop Summary Report
October 2022
IQT convened 22 representatives from IQT portfolio companies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and U.S. government agencies to better assess the various efforts to measure disinformation and to explore wider, related issues. This report highlights key takeaways and emerging themes.

Convergence
November/December 2021
In this issue of of IEEE Security & Privacy, Dan Geer argues that technologies that exhibit positive feedback loops (such as artificial intelligence and synthetic biology) create special policy challenges because they extend the length of time between the appearance of an offensive capability and the construction of an adequate defense against it.

Building a Trusted ICT Supply Chain
January 2021
Watch Dr. Sarah Sewall discuss the challenges of ensuring that the United States maintains a secure and trusted supply chain for information and communications technology. In this event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, she makes the case for filling key innovation gaps in private sector investment.

Data Privacy Tech Primer
October 2020
IQT helps organizations find the best technologies to protect the information with which they are entrusted. But citizens and policymakers lack such an interlocutor, even as they are increasingly asked to share their personal data with organizations. Tommy Jones introduces data privacy technologies to the non-expert in this tech primer.

Open RAN Initiatives
October 2020
The Radio Access Network (RAN) is part of a mobile telecommunication system that comprises cell towers that broadcast and receive radio signals, and its core network provides communications services that also function as the gateway to the internet. This paper explores how opening up the RAN could disrupt the telecommunications equipment market and create new opportunities for the U.S.

In New Space Race, U.S. is Falling Behind
December 2018
Listen to Glenn Gaffney comment on the space race in his interview with Michael Morell on the Intelligence Matters Podcast.