Classical biological control is one of the key approaches to the management of invasive alien pests. This typically involves the importation and release of natural enemies from the pest's area of origin. Due to increased concerns about the ecological safety of imported biocontrol agents, regulatory requirements for information during the importation process have increased considerably in recent years. Thus, a considerable amount of knowledge has to be generated before a natural enemy can be introduced. This also means that a considerable amount of time can be lost before implementation of biological control program. In principle, the process can be speeded up if research on potential threats is done in advance. However, the challenge to such a pre-emptive approach is that there are many potential threats and only limited resources. This paper discusses ongoing pre-emptive research on Planococcus minor, a high risk pest threat to the United States and other countries in the Caribbean Basin. It also discusses the value and application of such strategic research, and identifies key considerations for institutionalizing this approach.