Strategic Balancing Initiative

Connecting leaders in Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., and beyond to develop actionable ways to address U.S.-China techno-industrial competition.

The Strategic Balancing Initiative (SBI) at the Institute for Security and Technology (IST) works to overcome public-private misalignments in the technology development ecosystem in order to accelerate American economic competitive advantage with the People’s Republic of China.

Technology drives economic success, both as a stand-alone market segment and as a necessary elementpart of other businesses, including those in energy, healthcare, and finance. This economic significance directly translates into improved national security. Although scholars and policymakers have long understood economic strength to improve national security, technological strength is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century. Leadership in the technology development ecosystem confers countries with direct and immediate advantages, some of which stem from the reality that leaders in tech get to set the protocols and precedents for other companies and countries to follow. 

No global competitor threatens American technological superiority more than the People’s Republic of China, which creates technologies and tech policies that facilitate genocide domestically and perpetuate authoritarian interests abroad. That’s where SBI comes in.

“The startup ecosystem has historically been an under-covered domain of the U.S. economic activity and of little geostrategic importance to policymakers. While most recognized Silicon Valley as a technological hotbed, very few paid much attention to how technology companies were funded, how much funding they required, over what timeframe, who provided the funding, and what information and rights the funders received in exchange for their checks. But as state-backed actors like China have become peer competitors, and as technology has advanced to service both military and civilian use cases, policymakers have taken notice.”
– Pavneet Singh, IST Adjunct Advisor at Money Moves: Tech Investment and U.S.-China Relations, October 2023

Latest from SBI

Unlocking U.S. Technological Competitiveness: Evaluating Initial Solutions to Public-Private Misalignments
In this second of three concept papers, Ben Purser and Pavneet Singh draw on insights from working groups with stakeholders across the biotechnology, energy, and quantum sectors to outline potential solutions to the misalignments identified in SBI’s first concept paper.
March 2024 | Report

Unlocking U.S. Technological Competitiveness: Public-Private Misalignments in Biotechnology, Energy, and Quantum Sectors
In this first of three concept papers, Ben Purser and Pavneet Singh embark on a deep dive into each sector based on a series of closed-door discussions with experts in the biotechnology, energy, and quantum sectors, identifying and sketching out initial ideas for facilitating tech innovation, including not only cross-cutting efforts but also sector-specific factors.
February 2024 | Report

Money Moves: Tech Investment and U.S.-China Relations
IST Adjunct Advisor Pavneet Singh hosted Michael Brown, partner at Shield Capital, and former Ambassador Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, to discuss the role of investment in the technology competition between the U.S. and China. IST Vice President for Geostrategic Risk Ben Purser kicked off the discussion with an introduction to the Strategic Balancing Initiative.
October 2023 | Event

#4: DOD and SBA Launch the Small Business Investment Company Critical Technology (SBICCT) Initiative
The U.S. government continues its push to create access to government-backed financing to reduce risk of investing in emerging technologies with the launch of the Small Business Investment Company Critical Technology Initiative.
October 2023 | Fact Sheet

#3: White House Releases Outbound Investment Executive Order
The new EO declares a “national emergency” and delineates actions from “countries of concern” that exploit U.S. outbound investments to develop sensitive technologies and products critical for military, intelligence, surveillance, and cyber-enabled capabilities.
August 2023 | Fact Sheet

Chasing Innovation: How America’s Technology Ecosystem Impacts Policy Success
An examination of the value of semiconductor startups illuminates the need for ecosystem support across all aspects of the chip development value chain and the interplay between “promote” and “protect” policies.
July 2023 | NatSpecs Blog

“De-risking” beyond China: Prescriptive Diversification & Allied Engagement
The recent G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communique notably included the newer D.C. and EU rhetoric on “de-risking” with China. Although this shift sits within the context of states’ relationships with China, there is significance beyond China policy.
June 2023 | NatSpecs Blog

#2: DoD Releases the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy
The NDSTS advances the 2022 NDS by specifying how DoD can invest in technological innovation as a major element of American competitiveness and national security.
May 2023 | Fact Sheet

#1: DoD Establishes the Office of Strategic Capital
On Thursday, December 1, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin established the Office of Strategic Capital (OSC), defining it as an “organization that will help build an enduring technological advantage by partnering with private capital providers.”
December 2022 | Fact Sheet

Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Capital must win over Silicon Valley
In December, the United States Department of Defense established the Office of Strategic Capital to build out the U.S.’s strategic advantage in technology and industry by partnering with private capital. In an op-ed for Defense News, IST’s Leah Walker and Alexa W. caution that the office’s success hinges on acceptance in Silicon Valley and innovation hubs across the country.
December 2022 | IST in the News

About the Initiative

SBI takes an iterative approach to accelerate American economic competitive advantage with China: convening experts, researching what those experts identify, and developing public-facing papers and events to make it easier for leaders in Silicon Valley and DC to align on practical solutions.

In consultation with cross-sectoral industry experts and national security policymakers, SBI examines these critical misalignments between national security interests and technology industry incentives. The initiative works to align public and private sector leadership on international policies and programs—particularly with respect to China—and identify actionable ways for governments and companies to work together to improve American technological advantages. Throughout the project, IST will share its findings with policymakers, seeking their feedback on technology industry views and proposals. Ultimately, the project will create new channels for cooperation between technologists, technology businesses, and policymakers, while generating actionable recommendations that public and private sector leaders can take to improve American standing. SBI explicitly seeks to accelerate U.S. innovation and growth in emerging and critical technologies — contributing to American competitiveness with China and the global technology ecosystem.