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The United States leads the world in innovation, research and technology, but risks losing its national security edge to rising competitors. 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 University of California Institute on Global Conflict and 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.

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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 research and development 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.

Second, accelerating innovation also requires addressing the structural and policy barriers that too often block the adoption and deployment of new solutions. Our research focuses on identifying where policies or processes are blocking innovative solutions, and offering practical solutions for policymakers.

Catalyst is based in San Diego, a global hub for entrepreneurial business, technology development and academic research. With its location on both land and sea borders, San Diego is home to operational elements of a large number of national security agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy, Justice, Interior and Defense, as well as the Center for Disease Control and local first responders. This ecosystem provides the unique ability to quickly identify national security challenges and develop potential solutions.


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

Q&A with Scott Tait, Executive Director, Catalyst

The United States leads the world in innovation, research, and technology, but risks losing its national security edge to rising competitors. Catalyst, a new IGCC initiative, aims to drive more and better investment in and adoption of security innovations by strengthening connections between the national security community, innovators, researchers, and investors, and policymakers. In this interview, Catalyst Executive Director Scott Tait talks about the global shifts that provide the impetus for Catalyst, the barriers to innovation and how Catalyst will tackle them, and what brought him to UC San Diego after nearly 30 years in the Navy.

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5G and National Security

The impending deployment of 5G technologies is expected to have far-reaching social, economic and security implications. While the potential exists for these technologies to provide substantial benefit across a wide range of human activities, there also exists the possibility for serious negative externalities that range from national security and privacy threats to health concerns.

The Catalyst initiative, in partnership with the UC San Diego Office of Research Affairs, School of Global Policy and Strategy, School of Engineering, School of Management, San Diego State University’s Homeland Security program and a host of industry and government partners, is conducting research to identify and develop policy recommendations for national leaders.



catalyst_scott-tait.jpg Scott TaitExecutive Director
catalyst_tai-ming-cheung.jpg Tai Ming CheungDirector, UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation
catalyst_james-cross.jpg James CrossDirector & Partner, Franklin Templeton Investments