Chinese tech giant and UK Government partnership

9th May 2018
Lanna Cooper


To announce a strategic collaboration in the Cultural Creative Industries, Tencent and the Department for International Trade (DIT) of the UK has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in London.

The Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade and Seng Yee Lau, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent officiated the ceremony, where a number of key DIT officials and representatives of various renowned corporations were also in attendance. 

Following the signing of the MOU, Tencent will work closely with British institutions and corporations, including British Tourist Authority, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), British Fashion Council (BFC), Springer Nature and many others to launch various ‘Culture Creative’ initiatives.

During his introduction, Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association and chair of the event, highlighted why the UK presents such an attractive investment opportunity for Tencent.

He commented: “Sixty percent of the world’s top non-European companies have their headquarters in London and it is the city of choice for all the US tech giants. In fact Google has described the UK as a fantastic test tube, driving a lot of the innovation for their business as they look to expand globally. Much of that is to do with the diversity and international nature of the talent we have in the UK - it’s that diversity that attracts the talent, which creates the work, which then fuels the growth.”

In his address Liam Fox MP added: “I have visited China several times this year and have met with a number of innovative companies who see the UK as the perfect place to invest. As I often say, the fundamentals of the UK economy are exceptionally strong as demonstrated last year, when more foreign direct investment projects landed in the UK than any other year in our history. 

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF), predict that 90% of global growth over the next ten to 15 years will come from outside the EU, and much of this will be driven by the Asian economies. The next few years will offer a golden opportunity for the UK to work with partners such as Tencent to drive innovation and shape the future of global trade. We look forward to turning this ambition into a reality and I welcome the MOU that is being signed with Tencent today. The only limitation for the future is our own scale of ambition - and neither of us are short of that.”

“Openness, partnership and sharing at a global level have become our common vision for the future of human development in this digital era, within this context, the MOU to be signed between Tencent and the UK Department for International Trade is of great significance. As a culture and technology corporation with strong foundation in the internet world, Tencent has always been actively exploring how we could empower people through internet technology and other innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI),” said Seng Yee Lau, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent.

“The culture and technology industries in the UK are well recognised around the world, and we believe that there will be a lot of collaboration opportunities in the future. Imagine a time, not long from now, when the empowering nature of digitisation is available to everyone in the world. What we are doing today is a first step towards making that image a reality.”

Focusing on advanced technologies
Tencent has been investing heavily in technologies such as AI and quantum computing, and has been identifying collaboration opportunities around the world. Among the technological collaborations with organisations in the UK, Tencent has forged a long term partnership with the University of Oxford on frontier disciplines, such as quantum computing and computer vision to promote the integrated development of academia and industry sector.

On AI technology, Tencent and Babylon Health, a UK-based AI healthcare provider, signed a collaboration agreement to offer AI health consultation service on WeChat in the near future. 

Tencent AI Lab and Nature Research, a division of academic and educational publisher Springer Nature, has also formed a strategic partnership to support the interdisciplinary collaboration between the healthcare industry and AI research communities. The partnership will develop and implement more ‘AI+ Healthcare’ products and applications through scholarships and industry-academic research exchange.

Tencent Artificial Intelligence Medical Innovation System (AIMIS) was launched in 2017 as Tencent’s first step into the ‘AI+ Healthcare’ sector. This technology can perform an endoscopic examination in less than four seconds, with a 90% accuracy for detecting early cases of oesophageal cancer. The product has already been adopted by more than 100 top hospitals across China, and its usage has been expanded to screening for multiple diseases, including pulmonary nodules, diabetes and ocular fundus disease. 

In addition, Tencent and Nature Research has also introduceda special award to encourage young investigators around the world to conduct interdisciplinary research to address key challenges faced by humanity.

In 2018, the award will focus on breakthroughs in the ‘AI+ Healthcare’ sector. In addition to monetary incentive, winners will also be given the opportunity to speak alongside world famous technological innovators at the Tencent WE Summit, and share their research achievements with audience from across the globe.

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