South Korea minister visits Imperial to mark synthetic biology collaboration


Imperial's President Hugh Brady and South Korea's Minister of Science and ICT, Professor Lee Jong Ho, during a visit to the White City Campus.

South Korea’s Science Minister visited Imperial during the country’s UK state visit to strengthen scientific ties between the two countries.

The visit came as the Governments of the UK and South Korea pledged to push collaboration between the two countries to new heights with a series of science and technology agreements.

Minister of Science and ICT, Professor Lee Jong Ho, and a delegation of academic and science leaders visited Imperial’s White City Campus, where they were hosted by Imperial’s President, Professor Hugh Brady. Here, they saw first-hand the London Biofoundry, a cutting-edge synthetic biology research facility, and heard about SynbiCITE, the UK synthetic biology industry and engineering biology industrial accelerator.

The delegation also visited the South Kensington Campus to see Imperial’s groundbreaking quantum technology with Imperial’s Provost, Professor Ian Walmsley.

The visit marked the establishment of a joint synthetic biology research centre between SynbiCITE (the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for synthetic biology), the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB).

President Brady said: “International collaboration is an essential feature of Imperial’s thriving research community, so we are proud to be part of the UK and South Korea’s important collaborations on key technologies. By working together with South Korea’s leading science and technology institutes, we will accelerate innovation for the benefit of society.”

South Korea's Minister of Science and ICT, Professor Lee Jong Ho, at Imperial's White City Campus.

During the visit, the South Korean delegation toured the London Biofoundy and heard how SynbiCITE has worked on innovative technology with companies in White City and across the UK. SynbiCITE aims to accelerate and promote the commercial use of synthetic biology research and engineering biology, with the aim of delivering sustained and substantial benefits to the UK economy.

The delegation also heard how Imperial is encouraging student entrepreneurship, through initiatives such as the Enterprise Lab and Hackspace.

Earlier this week, the Minister met with Imperial’s Provost, Professor Ian Walmsley, to see the Centre for Cold Matter at the South Kensington Campus and discuss joint strategic opportunities in key areas of research, such as the development of quantum technologies.

Closer collaboration

Professor Hugh Brady and Professor Lee Jong Ho at Imperial's Translation & Innovation Hub.The UK and South Korean Governments are seeking to work more closely on critical technologies such as AI, quantum and semiconductors in the coming years, with a new £4.5 million fund announced this week to create joint research and innovation partnerships. 

There are also new commitments to collaborate on bringing the two countries’ space industries closer together and to cooperate more closely on engineering biology, highlighted by the establishment of the new synthetic biology research centre at Imperial. 

Speaking about the state visit this week, Science, Innovation and Technology 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.”


Conrad Duncan

Conrad Duncan
Communications Division


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