Current Funding Competitions

Future Open Networks Research Challenge

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The Future Open Networks Research Challenge (FONRC) is a £25 million challenge which will enable universities to work with large RAN vendors, and other telecoms organisations, to conduct research and development to drive the openness and interoperability of future network architectures.

These technologies will need to be commercially attractive to large vendors, MNOs and Venture Capitalists, and promote diversification in future network architectures.

The challenge will run until the end of March 2025.

This is part of the government’s Open Networks R&D Fund which will deliver on the £250 million 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy through a range of telecoms R&D projects.


5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy

The 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy (2020) set out the government’s long-term vision for the telecoms access supply market: one where competition and innovation bring forward new deployment models based on open interfaces and interoperable standards, with flexible networks and comprising an array of suppliers. This is because such a market increases competition and choice, and ultimately introduces interchangeability of equipment into the supply chain, boosting resilience

The Telecoms Diversification Taskforce recommendation: ‘long-term research and innovation’
The Telecoms Diversification Taskforce was appointed by the government in 2020 to look at where the government should target measures to ensure effective, accelerated and sustainable diversification in the telecoms supply chain. The Taskforce was composed of leading figures across industry and academia, chaired by ex-BT CEO Lord Ian Livingston of Parkhead, and has been providing important, expert, independent advice and scrutiny to the government as it takes action to rebalance the supply chain.

The Telecoms Diversification Taskforce Recommendations and Report called on the government to invest in R&D to accelerate the development and deployment of Open RAN in the short term, but to also invest in long-term R&D on future generations of networks to build UK competitive advantage and ensure that high levels of security, openness and competition are central to the technology roadmap. The taskforce suggested that the government develop a programme on research and development of future networks, and for future ‘network-of-networks’ in partnership with industry - operators and suppliers, academia, SMEs and start-ups, and to build on the UK’s existing world leading academia research base and research laboratories.

Open Networks R&D Fund

The government’s Diversification Strategy was backed by £250 million to invest in the Open Networks R&D Fund, which will run until April 2025. The Open Networks R&D Fund will finance targeted activity, based in the UK, to support three objectives to:

  1. Accelerate the development of open networking technology from its infancy to commercial viability.
  2. Incentivise and reduce the risks of deploying open networks technology in the UK at pace, to encourage network operators to accelerate its adoption and deployment.
  3. Develop an internationally recognised UK telecoms ecosystem, to position the UK as a leading market for research in open network technologies.

The investment will be delivered primarily in the form of competed grants to consortia of capable businesses, academic institutions, and public sector organisations who will deliver R&D projects to suit the objectives of the fund.

The government is currently undertaking a number of interventions to accelerate maturity of open network technology, including the FONRC

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Find a partner to collaborate with

The organisations listed below are looking for consortium partners via the UK5G Collaboration Exchange. You can get in touch with one of them directly, follow this thread to receive updates on new entrants or add your own details to the list if you wish to hear from prospective project partners.

  • Ben Ash
    Sales Manager

    Radisys Corporation. We're a vendor of cellular software stacks for RAN (L2/3) and core, both as binary and source code.

    We have a wide ecosystem of RU/RAN partners offering different shaped and sizes of RU and baseband processing platforms for all 5G use cases, and all our components (DU, CU, Core) are OpenRAN compliant.

    We'd be happy to partner with RU, PHY, SoC tecnology partners, as well as academia, Teleco and system integrators who wish to operate the proposed testbeds using our open and interoperable software.

    Thanks for reading.

    Ben Ash, Sales Director EMEA, Mobility Engine

    0 replies to this comment

  • Cambrian Connect 

    UK wide networks 

    Cambrian provide gigabit services over fibre and wireless technology. we are currently working in partnership with some major manufacturers and have agreed funding to roll out 60ghz and 5G small cell (open-ran) networks across the UK. 

    Cambrian are interested in taking part in the programme with regards technical build and funding.

    Cambrian are seeking any opportunity to discuss collaboration.

    0 replies to this comment

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