A leading Democratic national security official and adviser to presumptive Democratic nominee for President Joe Biden said Monday industrial policy moving forward should require bipartisan commitment to boosting investment in basic research projects, like those out of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to ensure the U.S remains “on the cutting edge of the technologies of the future.”

Jake Sullivan, who served as Biden’s national security adviser during the Obama administration, provided the comments during an online discussion with the Hudson Institute, which the moderator noted was “entirely on his own personal authority” and not officially reflective of the Biden campaign.

Aerial of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington D.C., with I-395 freeway on the left, and the Air Force Memorial up middle.

“There’s no reason you couldn’t put together a coalition across the aisle to talk about really large dollars driving the kind of investments in research that will keep the U.S. economy growing and at the cutting edge of innovation,” Sullivan said.

Biotechnology, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence were three examples Sullivan cited as emerging technologies that will require robust industrial policy to ensure there’s a balance between private investment and public funds invested in the Pentagon.

“[This is] where the balance between private investment and public investment has shifted so radically to private investment that it’s hard for us to have the broad innovation base that powered the kind of dynamic economy of the United States in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also brought up economists’ view that the defense budget is among “the only source of industrial policy the U.S. really has,” and called for projects that replicate DARPA’s success with founding the Internet to begin a shift in public perception over broad basic research investments.

“You would normally think ‘wait a second, more government investment means less dynamism not more dynamism.’ But when it comes to basic science and research, two MIT economists…just wrote a book examining how just having the private sector involved in this basic research very much narrow the scope of innovation because they’re looking for immediate profit payoffs rather than the kinds of spillover innovations that can come from broad public investment in basic research,” Sullivan said.