Written by Sam Maddicott
October 25, 2023
British Business Awards
The British Business Awards (BBA) is a celebration of UK-Japan culture and commerce, recognising outstanding business achievements and contributions across the UK-Japan business community. In 2023, ESR clinched the Company of the Year award, EY Japan won Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion of the Year whilst Toshiba was recognised alongside BT Group for their innovative tech collaboration and joint research.
In this article, originally posted by the BCCJ, Sam Maddicott caught up with Toshiba to reflect on being crowned a BBA champion as well as learn more about what lies ahead for the tech pioneers.
One year on, how has winning the award impacted what you do?
Winning the award has helped to strengthen our belief in the value of close collaboration between the UK and Japan. Over the past year, we have continued to work closely with the BT, including onboarding HSBC as our first commercial trial customer of our Quantum Secure Metro Network in London, cementing the UK as an industry leader in quantum-secure communications.
Additionally, we have invested £20 million in opening our new Quantum Technology Centre in Cambridge which will help us to further commercialise our quantum-secure communications technology. Based on our experience working with BT, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and other UK and Japanese partners, we felt that the UK was the perfect location for this new business unit due to the wealth of expertise in the country and the ease of collaborating with other organisations.
We were joined at the office opening ceremony by Lord Johnson, Minister of Investment in the Department for Business and Trade for the UK Government, and Hajime Hayashi, Ambassador of Japan to the United Kingdom, which provided a great forum for discussing further opportunities for collaboration between our two nations.
Building on your previous successes, what can we expect next from the BT Group – Toshiba Group?
Our next step is to continue the momentum we have built through many years of collaboration with BT to advance the commercialisation of quantum-secure communications, bringing it out of the lab and applying it to use cases in real-life customer situations. Last year, we launched the world’s first Quantum Secure Metro Network (QSMN) trial in London with BT, and this year we reached a new milestone as UK bank HSBC became our first commercial trial customer on the network.
Working closely with BT and HSBC to evaluate how the financial services industry can best leverage our technologies like quantum key distribution (QKD) will be a key step in helping to bring the technology to more customers to protect against the threat posed to current cybersecurity methods by the advancement of quantum computers.
Developing these use cases and educating enterprises on how they can best protect themselves will be a key focus for both ourselves and BT in the coming years, alongside exploring questions such as how we can start scaling up the networks capable of delivering quantum-secure communications.
What do you think were the main contributors that led to the BT Group – Toshiba Group winning this award?
BT and Toshiba share a lot of similarities – we are both long-standing businesses with strong heritages in our industries, who at the same time aren’t afraid to innovate and lead the way. We began our collaboration more than 20 years ago, working closely on R&D into quantum networking and quantum secure communications, and this close and long-lasting relationship has been pivotal in helping us to succeed.
Also, close relationships and business ties between the UK and Japan have helped to bring BT and Toshiba together and to help us along the way. The UK and Japanese governments highlighted their strategic cooperation ahead of this year’s G7 summit, citing numerous business collaborations between the two countries including Toshiba’s new business unit opening in Cambridge. In addition to this, support from organisations like Innovate UK, which helped to bring us and BT together on quantum secure communications, have been vital in ensuring that our collaborations are easy, and effective.
What advice do you have for other businesses aiming for similar recognition?
When working in complex and growing industries, you need to recognise that you can’t go it alone. BT is at the absolute cutting edge of networking and telecommunications, while we’ve developed industry-first technologies in quantum secure communications. Both are part of broader ecosystems, and if you want to really stand out from the crowd, you need to be collaborating with partners who can support you right from the start. It’s also key to find the right partners, and not let yourself be limited by geography if possible – that’s what’s made our collaboration with BT so effective.
Are there any alliances or partnerships that have contributed to your achievements?
Numerous organisations have supported Toshiba and BT in our collaboration. Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency, played a pivotal role in bringing our companies together in our work on quantum-secure communications, particularly in helping us to bring our work out of the lab and into the real world, while benefiting from the wealth of knowledge and expertise concerning quantum technologies in the UK.
We’ve also built close relationships with the UK Government alongside BT. We’ve worked closely with bodies including the Department for Business and Trade and the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, whose involvement has demonstrated the UK’s strong commitment to supporting the quantum industry across both R&D and commercialisation.
Wider industry partners have also played key roles the advancement of our quantum technologies. The British Chamber of Commerce in Japan has been instrumental in supporting close collaboration between our countries, while our partnerships with organisations like the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) have been vital for setting standards that help widescale adoption of quantum communications technologies.