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The substantial capital influx into key technology markets that has taken place over the past two years, including in microelectronics, hypersonics, and AI, is driving a new form of “arms race” centered around technological dominance to ensure economic growth, supply chain resilience, and national security.

To support broader economic and national security goals and hasten technology adoption, an entire ecosystem of resources is being harnessed, within and outside of government, as well as through partnerships with government (e.g., PIAs). This approach aims to direct investments toward the right technologies, companies, and R&D.

To optimize outcomes, two primary aspects related to market visibility must be addressed:
  • An adaptable definition of critical technologies that evolves with fast-moving technology markets.
  • A thorough understanding of the ecosystem’s participants that spans the entire product value chain from R&D (e.g., labs, research institutions, R&D investments by companies) to (e.g., VCs, academia).

No consistent definition exists for critical and emerging technologies

As part of our critical tech market and data, one thing stands out as a glaring issue…


For instance:

  • The White House has defined 10 critical technology categories through the CHIPS Act.
  • The Defense Department has identified 14 distinct technologies crucial for maintaining US national security.
  • The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) within the Executive Office of the President has outlined 18 different technology categories.
  • Other agencies and organizations, such as the National Science Foundation, have established additional categories.

The lack of consistent definitions gives rise to several issues:

  • Inability to analyze the emerging trends and capabilities of technology (e.g. where is battery technology headed).
  • Lack of understanding of the differences in terminology used, what we call “Language of the MarketTM”.
  • Lack of full visibility into a market due to incomplete, inconsistent definitions or use of different terminology (e.g. drones vs. unmanned systems).

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Please contact us to learn more about how you can put PSF market data to help you understand tech markets, and strengthen your suppliers and supply chain.

Defining Critical and Emerging Technologies

To guide the community towards a unified set of definitions, Public Spend Forum is employing its AI-MITM (AI for Market Intelligence) taxonomy mapping technology and data to define critical technologies. In this case, we began by examining existing critical tech areas across various initiatives, merging their definitions, and utilizing our datasets for clustering and deeper AI-enabled analysis. This approach resulted in the identification of 13 technology areas.

Although identified as separate technology categories, these 13 technologies often share applications across diverse cutting-edge use cases. Each technology category is further divided into sub-categories based on their specific applications and capabilities.

Share Your Feedback

We continue to work on refining these definitions and would welcome any feedback via email at

Ecosystem of (Underserved) Participants Within Critical and Emerging Technologies

Now that we have established preliminary, consistent definitions — though still being refined with additional detail — we have mapped the Critical Technologies Ecosystem (which continues to evolve). Our goal is to provide a comprehensive market view, encompassing both ALL participants and UNDERSERVED companies and organizations.

What does an innovation ecosystem entail?

So what does it mean when we say “ecosystem”? A comprehensive innovation ecosystem comprises organizations across the entire product development value chain, from R&D to full-scale commercialization of a product or technology. This includes labs and research institutions, startups, established companies, government agencies and programs with relevant use cases, investors, and other expert organizations.

It also includes organizations that enable or support commercialization including capital network (venture capital, accelerators, government funding), non-profits and industry associations, educational institutions and organizations providing critical skills.

The following is an example of the critical tech ecosystem focused just on Underserved companies and organizations.


Example of venture capital network:

As we continue building and mapping the ecosystem datasets across all 13 critical technology categories, the following is a sample data cut that illustrates the breakdown of identified venture capital firms and accelerators by different technology categories.

Teaser – SBIR Analysis Coming Next!

Beyond this initial high-level view of the critical tech ecosystem, in our next posts we will share more other analyses including which companies have won SBIRs/OTAs, which companies are working with agencies, which venture capital firms are investing in which critical areas, and more.

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