Can tech protect R&D from foreign adversaries?

The Air Force Research Laboratory wants to assess the risks posed by researchers who may be passing R&D to foreign adversaries.

To protect U.S.-sponsored research and development activities from foreign adversaries, the Air Force Research Laboratory is looking for technology solutions that can assess the risks posed by both current and potential awardees.

AFRL funds thousands of companies, universities, government agencies and other institutions involving millions of people. Recent events suggest that researchers are being recruited by foreign governments that mask their real identities with complicated networks of state-owned businesses to gain access to innovative technologies. Adversaries that could capture AFRL-sponsored R&D from either complicit or unsuspecting researchers would gain a competitive advantage over the U.S.

In an Aug. 16 request for information, AFRL calls for a solution that uses multiple public and private sources of information to create a comprehensive risk assessment for specific persons or entities that reduces the risk of R&D being lost to adversaries.

The solution should provide a quantitative assessment of an individual’s potential risk based on “criminal or civil legal matters; significant foreign ownership or control; foreign citizenship of key participants; and known foreign associations or relations,” the RFI said. It should identity conflicts of interest and include analysis of relationships to foreign governments. The data collected should be captured, available for use and quickly searchable.

While AFRL does not have a pre-determined idea of what the risk analysis should look like, the solicitation states that the output should include a relative score or rating and a brief explanation as to why a person or entity was assigned that risk level. This information should be communicated clearly and concisely, so that members of the Defense Department who are outside of the intelligence community can make an informed decision.

Responses are due Sept. 20. Read the full RFI here.

This article first appeared on GCN, a Defense Systems partner site.