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, cuttingedg­e 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

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