5G industry news

Faces of 5G: A Day in the life of Nick Mellors

  • 6 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 24 Nov 2021
  • Last modified 23 Nov 2021
The latest blog post in our Faces of 5G series, showcasing the people working behind UK5G

Hello, I’m Nick Mellors—I am the founder of Innovation Nottinghamshire, a not-for-profit company created to promote innovation, business and career opportunities in Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands. 

Our objective is to inspire and support new product and service development for start-up and existing businesses and community organisations; promote and develop the skills needed for today’s and tomorrow’s leaders, and share ideas and news to create positive collaboration. 

Parts of my home county suffer from the poorest social mobility opportunities in the country. By promoting digital connectivity and development, I hope that I can contribute to improving that.

For me, the opportunity isn't 5G itself, rather than technologies it is going to enable: whether that be AR, VR, robotics, autonomous vehicles, IoT, machine learning or artificial intelligence. In fact, a lot of this is actually happening already. This isn’t science fiction! 

Here in Nottinghamshire, we have created the first 5G Careers programme, initially working with college students to raise their awareness of the power of 5G. It is, inevitably, going to be a part of their daily working lives. I want to inspire imaginations and help students to process what this might mean for their future careers (be that the care industry, construction, tourism or hospitality!). It strikes me that 5G is currently not even mentioned on college or school curricula: I am hoping to change that. By the end of the academic year, I expect to have worked with over 1000 students and I’m also planning to take on four paid interns—including a couple who will have the opportunity to design games for the world’s first 3D games console - the WOWCUBE.

My passion lies in the business potential of 5G and its ability to break down social barriers to opportunity. I don’t have a telecoms background but the two go hand-in-hand. In order to unwrap the network’s benefits, we need to think commercially. I also firmly believe we need to put our resources together. There’s no point duplicating ideas! In Nottingham, SWIFt and 5G Connected Forest are doing brilliant, innovative work. We all agree it is important that we complement one another, not compete. 

1. What do you enjoy most about working on your project? 

Developing and delivering the UK’s first 5G Careers programme has been the biggest buzz. I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 300 students in north Nottinghamshire this year and the feedback from them and their tutors have been brilliant. When you get student feedback like, “It’s changed the way I see engineering - it’s a lot more advanced and cool. I imagined engineering being mostly hand tools and machinery; I didn’t think it would include VR (virtual reality). It’s super interesting, and I’m excited now!”, who wouldn’t enjoy their work?

2. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in the name of 5G?

Standing talking to the office cupboard. 

In fairness, the cupboard shelf was the only suitable place to put a webcam for an interview with BBC News about the 5G Connected Forest project. But the pictures did amuse my LinkedIn network.

3. What excites you most about the project?

I can see how 5G and the technologies it enables (like AR/VR, IoT, robotics, autonomous vehicles, real-time haptics etc) will not only transform work across every sector but also provide a massive opportunity for businesses and people entering the world of work. 

The Digital Innovation Centre has the potential to put our county, and especially the often overlooked north and eastern parts, well and truly at the forefront of this change - that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. It also turns out I use the word ‘awesome’ far more than I realised when I talk about my work! 

4. What would you like people to know about your work?

If you have a 5G - or other - digital innovation that you are looking to showcase, let me know. If you have an idea and are looking for potential collaboration partners, let me know. If we can make it happen at the centre or elsewhere in the county, we will.

But also, my work with the Digital Innovation Centre is just one part of the great work around 5G going on in the county. 

Less than 10 miles from the centre, the world’s first 5G Connected Forest project is exploring how 5G could be used to protect and promote areas of outstanding natural and cultural heritage such as the legendary Sherwood Forest. In the city, Nottingham Trent University is home to the Smart Wireless Innovation Facility (SWIFt): 6,500 m2 of ‘living lab’ with indoor and outdoor coverage as well as lab space, workshop equipment, development sensors, data loggers and other innovative hardware to trial and develop on. Meanwhile, at the University of Nottingham, there is cutting edge academic research underway with 5G operators modelling electromagnetic wave behaviour to inform decisions on the number and type of antennas to use across the UK, allowing for the creation of a high capacity, resilient network. Also, we already have public 5G across most of the city and suburbs of Nottingham and parts of the north and west of the county and I know the digital connectivity team at the county council are actively working with network operators to increase that coverage.

5. What’s the biggest benefit you think 5G will bring to the UK?

5G will change every business, from engineering to hairdressing and from care work to fire fighting. 

Helping our companies and young people understand the opportunities 5G enabled technologies will bring is critical to ensuring that they are able to grasp these opportunities and prepare for the UK’s future skills needs. Not only can 5G transform the competitiveness of the UK industry, as relatively early movers we have the potential to create whole new industries in the UK; not just in the telecoms sector but also in a range of sectors from environmental protection to consultancy services. I’m old enough to know that not everything will live up to its potential, but 5G seems to me to be a prize worth going for.