The past year has been fantastic for the 5G Testbeds & Trials (5GTT) Programme. I previously spoke about how excited I was for 2019, and that excitement certainly hasn’t dampened since then.
A highlight for me has been the continued excellence of the six projects from the initial portfolio that we funded.Just two years ago, we were scoping and designing the competition to fund these projects. Now we’re at a point where four of them have reached the end of the grant funding term and are continuing in new directions, and the others two are continuing until April to further develop their capabilities before embarking on a commercially driven future.
During my time on this part of the project, I’ve managed to tour the Roman Baths in Bath guided through augmented reality by a Roman soldier, and visited the Orkney Islands to see how 5G connectivity and sensors are being used to maintain the health of a salmon farm. I’ve been to Millbrook Proving Ground to see how AutoAir has delivered gigabit connectivity to fast-moving vehicles, and visited the smart factories of Worcester Bosch and Yamazaki Mazak to see how they’re using 5G to maintain their machines and improve efficiency. I’ve also seen how 5G can improve health and social care in Liverpool and what smart farming applications can be powered by 5G in Somerset. It really has been genuinely eye opening, and not just for us as part of the government that has funded them, but for industry too.
These projects have brought together small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with big industry players, universities and local authorities. The best of UK innovation, resources and expertise are represented among them, and I’m proud to have seen the hard work come to fruition.
In the West Midlands, WM5G continues to gather pace. Through projects like 5G Application Accelerator, Infrastructure Accelerator and Industry 4.0, WM5G is employing the benefits of 5G for people living and working in the region.
Alongside project delivery, we’ve been working hard on the next phase of the 5GTT Programme: Industrial 5G and our Rural Connected Communities (RCC) competition. Industrial 5G is about building on the success of our Worcester 5G project to further investigate what efficiency gains and productivity improvements can be made in manufacturing by using 5G connectivity. Our RCC competition is about finding projects across the UK that can demonstrate further applications for 5G in rural environments, exploring innovative and new ways to build wireless networks and to help to continue to form the business case for further investment in digital infrastructure in rural areas. These are exciting initiatives which we announced at the tail end of February (read here).
The 5GTT programme has come a long way since it was set up in 2017 and I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made. This is a particularly enjoyable period for me. I get to look back on the successes and highlights of much of our work, safe in the knowledge that the future of the programme is likely to be just as excitingly innovative. I hope you enjoy reading the rest of the Innovation Briefing Magazine; bring on the next stage.
Pictured: Ian Smith
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