The Top 10: #9 Ling Ge, chief European representative, Tencent

Ling Ge is chief European representative for China-headquartered internet company Tencent. She is based in the UK and conducts strategic investments and partnerships on behalf of the company, forming alliances with Europe-based startups, universities, government and industry players, including last year’s deals, such as UK-based music developer Instrumental and genomics company Congenica’s $50m series C round or prior ones, such as SenSat for digital twins and Prowler.ai for artificial intelligence.

The breadth of Tencent’s interests from gaming and music to healthcare means Ge has ultimately no shortage of opportunities but her work is to help the company translate deep tech concepts to real-world applications.

After Ge arrived at Tencent, the company launched its Quantum Lab in early 2018, which “aims to connect fundamental theory with practical applications in the fast-growing sector of quantum information technology”, as stated on its website.

Tencent made a limited partner commitment to UK-based venture capital fund FirstMinute Capital in September 2017.

Tencent’s Tech QQ news portal reported in May 2019 that Ge had inspired the company to pursue quantum computing technology, as it hired Shengyu Zhang, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who specialises in areas including algorithm, machine learning and quantum computing research, in January 2018 to head up Tencent Quantum Lab.

Ge wrote in an article titled ‘Quantum Computing –is a new era approaching?’ published in October 2019 on ChainNews: “Research progress in quantum computing has been significant, most dramatically demonstrated in the increase in the number of qubits on a single quantum chip research teams have developed. For instance, in 2016, the highest number of qubits on a quantum chip was less than 10 qubits; but companies such as Intel, Google and IBM have announced chips containing significantly higher (in the range of 50 –72 qubits).

“This research progress has been accompanied by significant investment, both in the private and public sectors. For instance, the EU in October 2018 announced the first recipients of their €1bn ($1.1bn) Quantum Technologies Flagship fund supporting quantum investment; and the US has announced similar levels of government funding. In the private sector, leading companies such as Airbus, LockheedMartin and JP Morgan are collaborating with quantum technology firms to investigate potential use cases.”

In May 2019, Tencent participated in forecasting software provider Prowler.io in a $24m series B round. Ge said at the time: “The UK is a global leader in AI and is increasingly becoming a focus for companies looking to invest in the sector,” attracting VC and CVC investors alike.

She added: “Prowler.io’s data-efficient approach and focus on human-machine teaming really set it apart. We are looking forward to Prowler.io applying its AI decision platform to a broadening range of customers, potentially including some of Tencent’s affiliate companies.”

Tencent’s other UK-based portfolio companies include 3D game producer Lockwood Publishing, patient genomic testing service provider Congenica and financial technology software developer TrueLayer.

In addition to her duties at Tencent, Ge holds board seats at multiple technology companies and VC firms, advising on areas including AI, education and quantum computing. She holds a doctorate in quantum computing from Oxford University and is a Leverhulme Fellow.