> San Diego National Security Catalyst

Technology & Policy Innovation For Effective National Security

The Catalyst exists to meet two urgent needs:

  • Improving the transition of innovative dual-use research and technology to national security users by leveraging San Diego’s unique security, technology, business and university environment.
  • Providing practical, effective policy recommendations to eliminate barriers to innovation and improve U.S. national security competitiveness.

Catalyst is a broad and collaborative effort that compliments and supports existing academic, incubator and national security innovation initiatives.

Due to San Diego’s unique geography-driven national security environment, we service Homeland Security, Coast Guard, Justice, Interior, Energy, Disease Control and other First Responders in addition to the Department of Defense.

The United States leads the world in innovation, research, and technology, but risks losing its edge in the realm of national security. Catalyst aims to drive more and better investment in, and adoption of, security innovations by strengthening connections between innovators, researchers, investors, and policymakers. An initiative of the UC Institute on Global Conflict & Cooperation, Catalyst’s goal is to broker partnerships, and provides practical, effective policy recommendations to improve U.S. competitiveness and enhance global stability and prosperity.

A Problem to Solve

Though private sector companies are developing technologies that can help address 21st Century national security challenges, government regulation, and complex contracting rules that disadvantage start-ups, create weak incentives for private sector innovators to partner with the U.S. government. At the same time, emerging global powers are improving their national security capabilities; and new technologies promise to profoundly reshape the innovation landscape.

In a changing world, where challenges go beyond traditional military conflict to include cyber warfare, competition in space, climate change, terrorism, and global pandemics, the US must accelerate innovation to anticipate and outpace emerging threats.

Our Approach

Catalyst focuses on two complementary sets of activities. First, Catalyst improves the links between national security organizations, entrepreneurs, academia, and investors. Specifically, Catalyst identifies promising technology solutions with national security applications among San Diego’s R&D centers, start-ups, and established companies, and helps innovators navigate the U.S. government system, reducing the barriers to entry, and ultimately leading to deployment of new and better technology.

Our expertise in US government policies and systems, combined with our extensive network among business, government, and the academy, enables us to provide tailored advice to facilitate partnerships.

Accelerating innovation also requires addressing the policy and systems constraints that stymie innovation. Our research focuses on identifying where policies or processes are blocking innovative solutions, and offering practical solutions for policymakers.

Our Unique Ecosystem

Catalyst is based in San Diego, a global hub for entrepreneurial business, investment, and technology. San Diego is home to large number of national security agencies—the US departments of Homeland Security, Energy, Justice, Interior, and Defense, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and local first responders—all of whom work every day to operationalize technologies to enhance security. San Diego is also home to world-class university systems that conduct vibrant, cutting-edge research. UCSD is a recognized global leader in the nexus of technology and innovation, with centers of excellence that include the Jacobs School of Engineering and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization

Catalyst works across 9 technology areas:

  • Autonomous Systems & Robotics
  • Machine Learning, AI & Data Analytics
  • Communications, Cyber and IoT
  • Drone & Counter-Drone
  • Health & Genomics
  • Training & Human Performance
  • Advanced Materials
  • Energy Generation & Storage
  • Smart Facilities

San Diego National Security Catalyst

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