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Shaping the future of policy through innovation

Leveraging its location in New York City and at Columbia University, SIPA’s thought leadership and resources position it at the hub of digital innovation and policy. Through a series of initiatives developed in the last decade, SIPA has accelerated its commitment to curricular innovation, experiential learning, and scholarship at the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship.


Our students are seizing the policy, research, and entrepreneurial opportunities created by digital technology, and I believe SIPA’s research on complex geopolitical and economic challenges must include consideration of digital policy developments around the world.”

Merit E. Janow,

Reimagining Policymaking for the 21st Century

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SIPA’s Tech and Policy Initiative launched in 2014 with critical support from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Since that time, SIPA has acted as a convener, using its position at Columbia and in New York City to engage young scholars and tenure-track professors and working to bridge the gap between policymakers, business leaders, and academics.

Since its founding, the initiative has been home to leading research scholars like Jason Healey, Greg Rattray, Laura DeNardis, Ronaldo Lemos, and many more.

In 2016, SIPA received a grant from the Nasdaq Educational Foundation to support new initiatives emphasizing entrepreneurship and innovation stemming from both information and communications technology (ICT) and digital technology, along with their intersection with public policy globally. 


The Tech and Policy initiative is also home to the Niejelow Rodin Global Digital Futures Policy Forum, which has convened multi-sector experts from around the world to explore policy responses to the emerging challenges of digital transformation. Digital dependence helped protect the global economy from the disruptive force of the COVID-19 pandemic even as it multiplied the risks posed by domestic and international threats.

Among the initiative's many achievements are the New York Cyber Task Force report, entitled “Building a Defensible Cyberspace,” and the ongoing Project on Cyber Risk to Financial Stability (CRFS).

Mapping Data Flows 

Startled by the little control users have over their data, a team of SIPA students and alumni around Senior Research Scholar John Batelle developed an interactive visualization that helps users understand how large technology companies collect, use, and share user information across the internet.

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Senior Research Scholar John Batelle (right) was joined by researchers for a presentation on data mapping.

Collaborating across Campus for a Safer Cyberspace

Recognizing the importance of secure cyberspace, SIPA scholars forged cross-campus partnerships like Cybersecurity: Technology, Policy, and Law, a course cotaught by Jason Healey with colleagues from the Computer Science department and Columbia Law School designed to give students a holistic, cross-disciplinary overview of cyberpolicy. 

Healey, along with a dozen other SIPA faculty, has a joint appointment with the University’s Data Science Institute, which fosters collaborations across Columbia to advance techniques to interpret data and address pressing societal problems.

Merit Janow is committed to bringing all things cyber and digital to the School. We’ve developed a robust program of research, events, and coursework that have made SIPA a hub for the study of cybersecurity and technology policy and our students are not only the main recipients but our best partners.”
Jason Healey

Where Ideas and Impact Meet

Founded in 2016 thanks to a multi-year grant from the Nasdaq Educational Foundation, SIPA’s Entrepreneurship and Policy Initiative focuses on four core areas of research — global education technology, digital currency, urban innovation in cities, and the internet of things (IOT). The Initiative supports numerous curricular innovations and campus-wide partnerships  which allow students to employ the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to solve real-life problems. 

Support for Student Entrepreneurship

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In partnership with Columbia Entrepreneurship, SIPA has expanded opportunities for students at the intersection of entrepreneurship, research and technology. Most significantly, the Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant — an entrepreneurship competition supporting innovative student projects that leverage digital technologies and data to develop practical solutions to problems — has supported 328 students with $1,065,197 in total funding since launching in 2014. 


Additionally, the COVID-19 Response Challenge and the Global Public Policy Network (GPPN) competition encourage students to develop digital technology ventures using information and communications technology solutions (ICTs) and data analytics to improve society practically, with a special focus on addressing COVID-19’s impact.


SIPA students and alumni have also enjoyed SIPA’s participation in the Columbia Startup Lab, an incubator space in downtown Manhattan facilitated by Columbia Entrepreneurship. Since its founding in 2014, the Lab has been home to 10 SIPA startups, with a total of 20 alumni entrepreneurs. 

Innovative Curriculum for the Future of Policy

SIPA has developed an array of innovative classes for policy students around topics related to cybersecurity, internet governance, and the digital economy, as well as Capstone workshops providing students with practical experiences on such cutting-edge issues. Some examples include; Internet Governance, Human Rights, and Inclusive Policymaking (in the Digital Age); Cyber Risks and Vulnerabilities; and Democracy, Policy, and Digital Governance.

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