America’s business climate and legal and regulatory systems encourage risk taking. We are a nation of people who work hard, dream big, and never give up. Not every country shares these characteristics. Some instead steal or illicitly acquire America’s hard-earned intellectual property and proprietary information to compensate for their own systemic weaknesses.
Every year, competitors such as China steal U.S. intellectual property valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. Stealing proprietary technology and early-stage ideas allows competitors to unfairly tap into the innovation of free societies. Over the years, rivals have used sophisticated means to weaken our businesses and our economy as facets of cyber-enabled economic warfare and other malicious activities. In addition to these illegal means, some actors use largely legitimate, legal transfers and relationships to gain access to fields, experts, and trusted foundries that fill their capability gaps and erode America’s long-term compet itive advantages.
We must defend our National Security Innovation Base (NSIB) against competitors. The NSIB is the American network of knowledge, capabilities, and people—including academia, National Laboratories, and the private sector—that turns ideas into innovations, transforms discoveries into successful commercial products and companies, and protects and enhances the American way of life. The genius of creative Americans, and the free system that enables them, is critical to American security and prosperity.
Protecting the NSIB requires a domestic and international response beyond the scope of any individual company, industry, university, or government agency. The landscape of innovation does not divide neatly into sectors. Technologies that are part of most weapon systems often originate in diverse businesses as well as in universities and colleges. Losing our innovation and technological edge would have far-reaching negative implications for American prosperity and power.