artificial intelligence
Banking on the success of the AI Safety Summit, the UK and South Korea have signed sci-tech deals as part of the UK-Republic of Korea Accord to strengthen ties in AI, semiconductors, space tech and other technological sectors including a £4.5 million research funding ahead of their joint venture to host the 2024 AI Safety Summit. Pixabay

The UK science fraternity and the tech sector are set to get a major boost as the UK has signed sci-tech deals with South Korea.

On November 21, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology announced the signing of sci-tech deals with the Republic of Korea which has commitments in several fields including AI, semiconductors and space.

A series of sci-tech deals were signed by the UK Secretary of State Michelle Donelan, Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Bang Moon-kyu, and Minister of Science and ICT Lee Jong Ho, at the Royal Society on November 22.

The two countries have agreed on the landmark UK-Republic of Korea Accord which was announced by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol who is on a state visit to the UK this week. Britain and South Korea are natural partners as both are in the top five Global Innovation Index

As part of the new UK-Republic of Korea Accord, science and tech leaders of the two countries will work together to harness the power of new technologies to boost jobs and economic growth in the respective countries.

Britain and South Korea will co-host the next AI Safety Summit building on the success of this year's summit in London

As part of the plan, the Royal Society will celebrate UK-Republic of Korea sci-tech links in London and strengthen the research links between the two countries with £4.5 million in new funding.

The research links between the UK and South Korea will be further supported by the International Science Partnerships Fund, the UK's global fund for research and innovation. Innovate UK will inject £8 million into innovation programmes started with South Korea from the next financial year for this purpose.

This is likely to speed up the commercialisation of technologies like semiconductors and AI.

The new commitments including space and digital tech collaborations will open new opportunities for trade, innovation and investment between the UK and South Korea, ultimately leading to the growth of the UK economy which is in the top five priorities of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The UK-Republic of Korea Accord seeks to strengthen defence, trade and investment ties between the two countries.

Speaking about the matter Science Secretary Michelle Donelan said: "The Republic of Korea is a tech powerhouse, and a vital partner to the UK. We share the same values and face the same challenges: from creating future jobs and industries fit for the AI age, to bringing the power of science to bear on climate change and supporting ageing populations."

"As part of the new Accord between our two countries, this raft of agreements will future-proof our relationship for decades to come: a partnership that is already bearing fruit as we work closely together on the next AI Safety Summit," Donelan added.

Sci-tech deals signed as part of the UK-Republic of Korea Accord

The sci-tech agreements signed as part of the UK-Republic of Korea Accord include:

  • Building a new framework for semiconductor cooperation to enhance collaboration on R&D, skill development, supply chain resilience and trade.
  • Forming a new digital partnership to boost joint work in areas of priority like data, telecoms, AI and digital competition.
  • Accelerating cooperation on the development of safe and responsible AI based on the democratic values of the two countries.
  • Signing a new memorandum of understanding for space cooperation for better partnership between the British and South Korean space industries.
  • Creating a new implementation arrangement which reboots and updates the 1985 Science & Tech cooperation agreement signed between the two countries.
  • Setting up a new quantum dialogue for better talent exchange between South Korea and the UK.
  • Enhancing closer cooperation on engineering biology.

The Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology and Innovate UK signed a MoU to unlock the collaboration of industries and researchers of the two countries. This includes researchers from key areas like semiconductors, AI, space tech etc which are essential parts of modern life like cars, and hospital equipment.

The two countries are forming a joint synthetic biology research centre to bolster ties in engineering biology. The new centre will be hosted at the Imperial College of London and the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB).

Cambridge University will host KRIBB's first European outpost as part of the agreement signed by the Milner Therapeutics Institute (MTI) at the University of Cambridge and the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB). This centre brings together cell and gene therapy experts and AI-enabled drug discovery experts.

South Korea will also be part of the world's largest radio telescope Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) building. Britain will host the headquarters of the Observatory and has contributed £270 million to the project for a better understanding of the Universe. With South Korea on the team will draw the attention of the global science community.

The signing of the sci-tech deals with South Korea is the latest series of international science and technology deals signed by the UK government with various countries like India, Israel, South Africa, Japan and Switzerland.