Success for UK tech in APAC as South Korean firms seek quantum collaborations

At Quantum Korea 2024 in late June, five British companies showcased cutting-edge quantum technologies, igniting considerable interest.

This resulted in over 35 meetings with Korean corporations and R&D institutes to explore potential collaborations. These discussions, facilitated by the UK-APAC Tech Growth Programme, marked a significant step forward. Each company is now gearing up for continued commercial negotiations with the organisations they engaged with at this prestigious global quantum computing innovation event.

The British companies are:

  • Cavero Quantum – a cybersecurity spinout from Leeds University offering a quantum-powered cloud communications platform with a scalable web service application programming interface (API) and security protection
  • Element Six – a company in the design, development and production of synthetic diamond and tungsten carbide advanced material solutions for sectors including aerospace, mining, semiconductors, and photonics
  • Oxford Instruments - a provider of high technology products and services to the world's leading industrial companies and scientific research communities
  • Quantum Software Lab – a research facility for quantum software development and end-user applications hosted by University of Edinburgh with the UK National Quantum Computing Centre
  • Wave Photonics – a Cambridge company focused on design for integrated photonics, a technology that uses scalable and high-volume semiconductor fabrication processes to make chips that use light.
  • All five companies are part of the UK-APAC Tech Growth Programme, which offers free and subsidised assistance to tech firms aiming to expand into eleven markets: South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand.

James Lee, CEO of Wave Photonics, said: “The meetings secured for us at Quantum Korea enabled us to learn about the Korean quantum ecosystem in a way that just isn’t possible remotely. What’s most exciting is the prospect that the country’s phenomenal semiconductor and telecoms capability can be harnessed for integrated photonics development, facilitating the mass manufacture of quantum technologies which exploit light - which is nearly all of them.”

Craig Skeldon, Head of Business & Operations at Quantum Software Lab, added: “Our attendance at Quantum Korea provided us with an excellent opportunity to learn more about recent scientific advancements and technology development, to make new connections, and to identify meaningful ways of establishing international cooperation.”

The UK-APAC Tech Growth Programme, managed by international business development consultancy Intralink on behalf of the government, has been instrumental in fostering global tech collaborations. Intralink specialists highlighted that the Korean government recently allocated £14 billion for R&D projects in artificial intelligence, bioengineering, and quantum computing. This substantial investment signals a burgeoning market for these technologies, encouraging Korean corporations to seek technology partnerships and expertise from abroad, including the UK.

The success of UK tech at Quantum Korea followed a productive showing at SEMICON Korea in February, where seven UK semiconductor companies initiated discussions with potential customers and partners. Additionally, in June, ten UK tech scaleups specialising in net zero building technologies presented to Shimizu, one of Japan’s largest construction firms. Consequently, four of these companies have entered into detailed discussions with Shimizu.

Jeremy Shaw, who heads the UK-APAC Tech Growth Programme, said: “The APAC region represents a huge opportunity for innovative UK tech companies as many of the countries are playing catch-up in key technology areas and this is driving their need for partnerships and collaboration.

“The success achieved by the companies we’re supporting shows what’s possible and we encourage other UK tech companies with relevant technologies to sign up for the Programme so we can support their first steps into APAC.”