National Security and Investment Act

National Security and Investment Act

The National Security and Investment Act (NSIA) was introduced in the United Kingdom on 4th January 2022. The purpose of the NSIA is to regulate and monitor foreign investment in critical sectors of the UK economy with the aim of safeguarding national security interests. The NSIA is enforced by the Investment Security Unit (ISU) which is a division within the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).


The NSIA allows the government to intervene in acquisitions that could harm the UK’s national security. The legislation falls into two main parts; those of entities which are subject to mandatory regulation and those of assets which fall under voluntary regulation. Within the University it is expected that the majority of our work will fall under the area of voluntary regulation.

Guidance on the NSIA designed specifically for the higher education sector can be found here:

NSIA Elements

Qualifying Entities

An entity is defined as an organisation, partnership or trust that is from, located in or has a connection to the UK. An entity becomes a qualifying entity if it is operating in one of the seventeen nominated areas of the economy. (See below)

When a qualifying entity is acquired, the acquirer must inform the government if the level of control meets any of the following thresholds:

• the acquirer obtains a shareholding, stake or voting rights exceed 25%
• the acquirer obtains the ability to pass or block resolutions governing the affairs of the qualifying entity
• the acquirer obtains the ability to materially influence the policy of the qualifying entity

Notifiable acquisitions have to be submitted online. Failure to notify the government of a notifiable acquisition will render the acquisition void.

Qualifying Assets

A qualifying asset is defined as tangible moveable property (such as equipment) and land as well as intangible property in the form of ideas, information or techniques which have industrial, commercial or other economic value. Intellectual Property (IP) is classed as a qualifying asset.

Organisations often gain control over qualifying assets such as IP (via contracts or collaboration agreements) from funding research programmes. These contracts and agreements constitute the acquisition of a qualifying asset and therefore fall within the scope of the NSIA.

When a qualifying asset is acquired (or control over the qualifying asset is acquired) and the acquisition presents (or has the potential to present) a national security risk, a voluntary notification should be made. Voluntary notifications can be made by any party involved in the acquisition.

Areas of the economy

  • Advanced Materials
  • Advanced Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Civil Nuclear
  • Communications
  • Computing Hardware
  • Critical Suppliers to Government
  • Cryptographic Authentication
  • Data Infrastructure
  • Defence
  • Energy
  • Military and Dual-Use
  • Quantum Technologies
  • Satellite and Space Technologies
  • Suppliers to the Emergency Services
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Transport

Assessment for national security risk

The government can decide to assess an acquisition for a national security risk either via a notification or through market monitoring. This process is called: ‘calling in’. The government can ‘call in’ an acquisition if it has a reasonable suspicion that it poses a risk to national security.

Helping decide on the NSIA

The government have provided a process flowchart to help decide how the NSIA applies.

How does the NSIA apply to my project?

In Higher Education it is expected that the legislation relating to qualifying assets will be most prevalent. As a result, the University’s due diligence procedures at the application stage should pick up any research, consultancy or CPD projects that may fall within scope of the NSIA. If, however, you feel your work falls within the realm of the NSIA please contact us at the email found at the bottom of this page.

This guidance should be read alongside our Trusted Research and Export Control webpages.

Contact us

If you have any questions or queries relating to any of the aspects above please contact the Research Policy Intelligence and Ethics Team at