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Winning Projects of the UK Gov’s New 5G Investment Named UPDATE

Thursday, Nov 16th, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 920
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Oxfordshire in England has today been named as one of the first places to benefit from the UK Government’s (DSIT) new £40m 5G Innovation Regions (5GIRs) fund, which was recently setup (here) to help local and regional authorities to test and adopt 5G and other advanced wireless broadband networks for homes and businesses.

The goal of the 5GIR fund, which will award pots of public funding worth up to £3.8m to a total of around 10 projects, is to help drive 5G adoption and commercial investment by aggregating and demonstrating demand via new networks and services.

For example, the £3.8m awarded to Oxfordshire today will be invested initially in two major 5G projects – East West Rail (between Bicester and Bletchley), and the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. The related 5G project is called England’s Connected Heartland.

East West Rail project between Bicester and Bletchley

The rail industry in the UK is in the process of evaluating new connectivity options for both track operations and passenger access to fast reliable onboard WiFi. England’s Connected Heartland project aims to demonstrate how these requirements may be met through a pilot 5G network, which will also provide trackside communities and businesses with improved connectivity.

The project will explore how 5G can be used to improve farm productivity along the route.

Harwell Science and Innovation Campus

Oxfordshire County Council plans to create a private 5G network that covers the entire Harwell campus. It has already held discussions with several organisations on site including the European Space Agency (ESA), UK Space Agency, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). They are all supportive of building a 5G network.

The county council led the joint funding bid on behalf of nine other councils – Buckinghamshire, all Berkshire’s unitary authorities, Central Bedfordshire, and Cambridgeshire – and will now work closely with them on the aforementioned project.

Sir John Whittingdale, Minister of Data and Digital Infrastructure, said:

“We’re channelling millions into local areas to unlock the potential of cutting-edge 5G wireless and digital technologies, which will reshape our public services, drive economic growth and boost innovation. This new fund will give local areas from across the country the opportunity to be at the forefront of Britain’s world-leading 5G revolution.

For instance, by using 5G for farming and creating science parks, we’re not just helping local communities, but also encouraging new ideas all over the UK. This is more than just linking smartphones. It’s about using powerful digital connections to transform various sectors in the economy and the public sector throughout the entire country.”

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:

“We’re committed to working with other local authorities and partners to maximise our chances of securing investment in digital connectivity and telecoms innovation.

Today’s announcement is testament to the benefits of such an approach, allowing us to demonstrate the benefits of 5G, making Oxfordshire and surrounding counties a heartland for sustainable economic growth.”

Somewhat curiously the press release they sent us included an illustration of fibre optic cables, rather than 5G connectivity, but of course there will always be optical fibre involved at some point in such networks. In any case, we fully expect to hear about the award of more 5GIR projects over the next few days or weeks.

UPDATE 10:31am

We’ve now got a full list of the successful projects:

Belfast City Council – Belfast City Region

  • Government funding: £3,800,000
  • Sectors: creative industries, transport and logistics, advanced manufacturing
  • Project name: The Belfast 5G Innovation Region

Project summary

The Belfast Region is contributing to Northern Ireland’s innovation economy by making targeted investments in initiatives that will accelerate the adoption and commercialisation of advanced wireless technologies. The Belfast 5G Innovation Region will deliver across high-growth sectors including creative industries, advanced manufacturing, and transport and logistics.

The initiatives are:

  • Ulster University’s Studio Ulster is unlocking ‘5G-in-a-box’ technology to provide real-time, high-capacity uplinks between on-location filming and production studios
  • Belfast Harbour is harnessing 5G-led innovations to accelerate the digitisation of port operations including automatic bulk freight handling and safety improvements
  • NI’s public transport provider, Translink, is exploiting advanced wireless connectivity to enable enhanced operations and network planning along its Glider bus routes and drive modal shift for a cleaner, healthier city
  • Queen’s University is harnessing 5G, Building Information Modelling, Digital Twin technology and Augmented Reality to support the design and construction of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, a £100 million Factory of the Future
  • a 5G grant scheme will support local SMEs to develop 5G use cases and harness advanced wireless digital connectivity to grow their business
  • a 5G Enablement Programme will foster NI’s advanced wireless ecosystem by building skills, sharing knowledge, identifying opportunities for economic growth, and attracting investment

West Midlands Combined Authority

  • Government funding: £3,800,000
  • Sectors: advanced manufacturing, smart communities
  • Project name: The West Midlands 5G Innovation Region

Project summary

By becoming a 5G Innovation Region, West Midlands will transform productivity, create skilled jobs, improve health and wellbeing, and reduce emissions in 2 of the region’s most important sectors, advanced manufacturing and smart communities, which covers social care, social housing, and other related local services.

The project is led by some of the UK’s largest businesses and public sector organisations, including one of the UK’s largest advanced manufacturers and one of the country’s biggest R&D investors, and the 7 local authorities .

To make this happen the region will scale proven use cases through the UK’s first ‘adoption hubs’ in live operational environments and then support other organisations to benefit through adoption programmes.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

  • Government funding: £3,064,083
  • Sectors: energy, housing, transport
  • Project name: The Greater Manchester 5G SMART Decarbonisation Network (GM 5G SDN)

Project summary

The GM 5G SDN project focuses on how partners across Greater Manchester (GM) will tackle the drivers of climate breakdown at a city region level, accelerating decarbonisation, improving quality of life, and growing the Green Technologies and Services sector.

The project intends to enable hundreds of existing air source heat pumps across social housing. This will accelerate the creation of Smart Energy Grids and bring forward benefits for residents, industry and public services, aligning with GM’s Local Area Energy Plan, which will be scaled across GM.

Co-located on the same 5G network, a digital road network environment will be piloted aiming to reduce congestion and carbon emissions and prioritise traffic flow such as public transport in a quicker, efficient way.

A social housing focused place-based model will also be created where multiple use cases can be stacked including building management, education, mould detection, and health-at-home, whilst the results from the initial projects are scaled across GM.

Central to these is 5G advanced wireless technology wrapped within an ecosystem delivered by industry and telecoms partners. To deliver this we will utilise industry expertise, GM’s local full fibre network, academia, and cyber security sector.

Oxfordshire County Council – Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridge

  • Government funding: £3,800,000
  • Sectors: rail transport, advanced engineering
  • Project name: England’s Connected Heartland (ECH)

Project summary

ECH will aim to increase adoption of 5G connectivity focusing on regional strengths in R&D, advanced engineering/ manufacturing and education whilst aligning with other common regional dimensions such as rurality and improving public transport, particularly East to West (EW).

Each of the Local Authority participants in the Region have experienced digital infrastructure teams that have made huge inroads to improving fixed broadband connectivity. Whilst this remains an important regional focus, they are now working to extend the reach of advanced wireless connectivity by way of enabling wider adoption of the technology as a means of improving business productivity, further innovation, and improving public service delivery.

ECH will deploy resources from each of the participating authorities to develop joint opportunities with the wireless telecoms supply chain and the sectors to create an Advanced Wireless ecosystem. The project will do this by stacking use cases as vertical propositions that can then be lifted into other applications more widely across the region.

The project plans to deploy 2 physical 5G infrastructure builds (Harwell and EW Rail) to develop this methodology.

Glasgow City Council – Glasgow City Region

  • Government funding: £3,231,868
  • Sectors: social housing, health and social care
  • Project name: The Glasgow 5G Innovation Region

Project summary

Glasgow City Region will utilise existing Internet of Things (IoT) deployments and smart city applications to identify, deliver and propagate use cases for utilising advanced wireless technologies and driving improvements in public and private sector service delivery. It will focus on 4 projects initially:

  • Asset Monitoring and Maintenance
  • Net Zero Social Housing
  • Data Aggregation
  • Health and Social Care Monitoring

These projects will build upon a strong existing base to prove business models and scalability that will drive more efficient and effective services whilst also helping further grow regional economic specialisms.

The Council of the City Of Sunderland – North East Combined Authority

  • Government funding: £3,795,826
  • Sectors: transport and logistics, creative industries, rural industries: Agritech
  • Project name: The North East 5G Innovation Region

Project summary

In a visionary move towards a digitally empowered future, the 7 North East local authorities (LA7) are positioning the region at the forefront of advanced wireless connectivity.

Shaping the region’s digital landscape and leveraging the power of 5G, these projects use connectivity as catalyst for a sustainable, thriving future:

  • 5G-Enabled Port Operations: Aiming to enhance port competitiveness and safety whilst reducing environmental impact
  • Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems: Improving road transport efficiency within cities and between strategically vital industrial locations (such as Nissan and the Port of Tyne), this project will redefine regional transportation dynamics
  • 5G-Enabled Event Production and 360º Live Broadcasting: Acknowledging the region’s flourishing creative sector, this project will grow the North East’s pioneering reputation, and enhance its standing as a tourism and inward investment magnet
  • Advanced Wireless Sensor Technology on Farms: Driving automation, increasing efficiency and improving environmental sustainability, this technology will empower farmers with real data collected from a network of on-farm crop, soil, livestock and environmental sensors

Underpinning the North East as a national centre of excellence for terrestrial and non-terrestrial 5G use-case development and adoption, projects will accelerate economic, social and wellbeing impacts of advanced digital connectivity through rapid adoption and scale-up across key sectors.

North Ayrshire Council – Ayrshire Growth Deal Region

  • Government funding: £3,791,000
  • Sectors: advanced manufacturing, aerospace, life sciences, tourism, creative industries and public sector
  • Project name: The Ayrshire 5G Innovation Region

Project summary

The Ayrshire 5G vision is to become the UK’s premier manufacturing-focused 5G hub, driven by 5 transformative principles: technological excellence, a thriving innovation ecosystem, sustainable economic growth, skills and talent development, and influential investment strategies.

By establishing ‘Regional Strategic Wireless Innovation Hubs’, anchored to key Ayrshire Growth Deal sites, the region is creating a dynamic ecosystem that integrates 5G, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and edge computing into advanced manufacturing and critical sectors. These hubs are central to accelerating the adoption of digital and wireless technologies, transforming traditional production facilities into state-of-the-art Digital Wireless Factories.

This initiative promises a collaborative ecosystem, uniting startups, industry, and academia, with sustainability and Net Zero at its core. Developing a workforce ready for the digital era is vital. The region’s investment strategy will reinforce Ayrshire’s role as a manufacturing innovation hub and a significant 5G technology influencer.

Strategic partnerships with The Scotland 5G Centre, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, University of the West of Scotland, Ayrshire College, and other key institutions underscore the initiative. Ayrshire’s dedication to shaping the future of 5G will not only elevate the regional standing but also establish new benchmarks in the global manufacturing landscape.

Cumberland Council – Borderlands Partnership

  • Government funding: £3,800,000
  • Sectors: tourism
  • Project name: The Borderlands 5G Innovation Region

Project summary

The Borderlands Partnership is a collaboration between the counties which make up the English and Scottish border. Rural tourism is a key part of the Borderlands economy: the region has fewer than 1 million residents but welcomed more than 63 million visits in 2019. Advanced wireless technology can enhance how the region tells its story of Borderlands communities; build the tourist economy; protect the environment and local businesses; improve the delivery of rural services and the process to collect information to support future investment. The region will prove commercial delivery of this new technology at:

  • Windermere 5G Ferry
  • Kielder Castle and Forest
  • Stranraer Marina
  • The Sill @ Hadrian’s Wall
  • Destination Tweed

These projects have been chosen because they can be delivered and replicated. The project will design into these use cases a range of options to ensure sustainability and encourage further commercialisation during delivery. Learnings from these projects, especially with respect to commercial sustainability, will be used to demonstrate the benefits of the technology and support the project’s strategy to roll out to more sites as part of the renewed Digital Infrastructure Strategy.

West Sussex County Council – Sussex (East and West)

  • Government funding: £3,799,641
  • Sectors: rural industries (Agritech and food production)
  • Project name: The Growing Sussex 5G Innovation Region

Project summary

The food and wine growing region of Sussex presents fertile ground for growers and education centres to adopt foundational technologies in the sustainable intensification of their products, helping to achieve food security, reduce carbon and use energy efficiently. Sussex Councils are actively working with Growers and Education stakeholders, conducting research, understanding sector ambitions and current connectivity constraints.

Growing Sussex 5G Innovation Region will co-develop foundational technology use cases with telecoms and technology partners, education centres and commercial producers to develop future farming and growing practices that increase sustainable food and drink productivity; provide a qualified, digitally skilled workforce; develop sector-supporting products and services; foster a 5G ecosystem through innovation and data sharing at education centres with suppliers and adopters; create demand for scalable expansion of 5G/ wireless infrastructure and explore the commercial models to enable more food and drink producers to invest in digital connectivity.

Putting education at the centre of their approach will ensure the workforce is expectant of using technology in their workplace, generating a cyclical demand within the sector for investment. With complementary test and trial opportunities in ‘real world’ commercial growing sites, they will show telecoms suppliers the compelling need to provide replicable, affordable wireless connectivity.

Shropshire Council – River Severn Partnership

  • Government funding: £3,754,960
  • Sectors: rural industries, water, public sector
  • Project name: The River Severn Partnership Advanced Wireless Innovation Region

Project summary

Formed in 2019, the River Severn Partnership (RSP) brings together significant partners (26) across 8 counties. RSP covers more than 6,000 sq miles spanning both England and Wales. It is home to 2.6 million people and is projected to increase by 15% over the next 20 years to 2.9 million, equivalent to Greater Manchester.

With the river network at its heart, the Partnership is invested in a shared plan supporting people, businesses, and the environment to be resilient to the impacts of climate change and in so doing stimulate growth.

Becoming an Innovation Region consolidates RSP’s Innovation Programme by embedding Advanced Wireless Connectivity (AWC) technology at the heart of technological innovation across their priority sectors comprising rural industries, water management and public services, where RSP’s partners are both regional and national leaders.

The River Severn Partnership Advanced Wireless Innovation Region will demonstrate, prove, and drive implementation and adoption of new digital products and services that support public service delivery, whilst enabling key enterprise in water management and rural industries to explore and exploit digital innovation.

The project’s extensive partner network enables dissemination work, driving benefit at local, national, and regional level, further developing the wider UKTIN ecosystem with specific sector expertise.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
2 Responses
  1. Avatar photo incongruous says:

    Are one of the ‘innovations’ invisible poles? lol

    Good luck UK with 5G rollout lol when planning applications (especially Three) are refused anyway.

  2. Avatar photo GriftersGonnaGrift says:

    To me it sounds like lots of ‘tech’ word salad to fleece public.

Comments are closed

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