Technology sovereignty as an emerging frame for innovation policy - Defining rationales, ends and means
In recent years, global technology-based competition has not only intensified, but become increasingly linked to a more comprehensive type of competition between different political and value systems. Against this background, the notion of technology sovereignty has gained prominence in national and international debates as an additional rationale for innovation policy, cutting across the established perspectives or paradigms of economic competitiveness and socio-technical transformation. In this paper, we propose and justify a concise yet nuanced concept of technology sovereignty to contribute to and clarify this debate. We offer a balanced perspective of a nation's legitimate interest in ascertaining the availability of and access to technologies on the one hand, and the dangers posed by autarky and protectionism on the other hand, which are detrimental to global trade and eventually welfare. In contrast to much of the initial policy discourse, we derive our concept from economic and sociological theories. In particular, we argue that technology sovereignty should be conceived as state-level agency within the international system, i.e. as sovereignty of governmental action, rather than (territorial) sovereignty over something. Against this background, we define technological sovereignty not as an end in itself, but as a means to achieve the central objectives of innovation policy - sustaining national competitiveness and building capacities for transformative policies. Based on this motivation, future policies will have to aim at establishing a stable, albeit dynamic, equilibrium between sovereignty and openness. To accomplish this, the paper proposes three types of policies, i.e. new forms of strategic intelligence and foresight, a set of traditional STI policies and policies beyond STI specifically targeted at securing technology sovereignty. We conclude by highlighting a number of challenges stemming from the political economy dynamics that are to be expected should technology sovereignty become a leading rationale for innovation policy.