Please tell UKTIN about your background.
Hinkson: For the last five years, I have worked within the Cambridge Wireless ecosystem itself as a senior advisor and, more recently, for UK5G with commercial responsibility across various programmes. My background, in general, is pretty broad having worked across a number of different industries such as media, management & strategy consulting, learning and development and sport. My primary focus has been client engagement, managing projects and leading teams both here in the UK and abroad.
Osbaldeston: My background is a little bit different, which is why we complement each other so well. I have spent the last half of my career in product leadership: running product organisations in scale-ups and start-ups within the UK but also in Europe, including Berlin and Stockholm. I began my career as a technical guy; I was a developer and moved through a number of technical roles before making the move over to product management. In addition to my product and innovation roles, I worked with Innovate UK in 2021, as a start-up mentor and coach, which is another area that I will be leveraging here at UKTIN as well.
What will you be working on at UKTIN?
Hinkson: From the outset, our role will be to act as the gateway for a number of companies and organisations coming from across the UK telecoms ecosystem. We aim to help them navigate the telecoms landscape and provide a number of business support services to foster collaboration, and new R&D opportunities and achieve UKTIN’s wider mission to transform the UK telecoms innovation ecosystem.
Osbaldeston: I’m going to steal Hinkson’s phrase that he penned last week: this is a concierge service. What we’re doing here is signposting people and encouraging the development and evolution of the UK telecoms ecosystem. It is our mission to help align the sector, enable everyone to take advantage of the new opportunities that are out there and catalyse R&D investment and cooperation. We are trying to add a personal touch while bringing people together within this very diverse environment. Overall, it’s about facilitating success in UK telecoms.
Where is there a need for these services?
Hinkson: The need is best understood in the context of the UK Government’s plan to diversify the supply chain and build advanced, highly resilient future-proof telecoms networks. After many years of consolidation and overreliance on too few providers, there is a unique opportunity in the UK to reset and support a more vibrant, open sector. There is a chance for new players to come to the forefront and actually go through the process of developing their products, potentially at scale. Our role is to help facilitate their journey in doing that.
Osbaldeston: Yeah, I agree. Just to add to this, there is so much talent in the UK. There really are so many innovative, smaller companies coming through. That’s really exciting to see and it is nice to be able to be a part of this. I am sure Roger feels the same way. There are always new opportunities to create. If we can put people in the right place at the right time then maybe we can catalyse some of these opportunities. Telecoms is a complex environment; there are lots of different layers to it. It can be daunting! Part of UKTIN’s mission is to manage this complexity so that companies have a place where they can go for information, including the funding ecosystem, which is one of my first tasks.
What does success look like for you?
Hinkson: The first year of UKTIN will be pivotal. Certainly, once the service is established, we want to invite companies to participate and find new partners that already exist within the network, enabling them to bring products to market, at scale. Their commercial success is definitely the intended outcome in this instance.
Osbaldeston: Again, I truly agree with that. We’re here to help UK telecoms commercialise and of course, growth is something that we are very keen to support. We want people to recognise UKTIN as a place to navigate the ecosystem and forge new partnerships.
Why did you want to be a part of UKTIN?
Hinkson: For me it’s an extension of the work that I was doing for UK5G, except this time a chance to focus more broadly on telecoms, R&D&I and commercialisation of products. Obviously, it is early days but this is an exciting programme and it has big implications for the future of the UK telecoms industry. It is great to be part of that development. UKTIN feels like the right place for me to be and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.
Osbaldeston: It’s a very natural place for me to be, having spent time in start-up and scale-up environments with very high growth. I’ve always enjoyed being a part of the telecoms community. I think, in general, it is very supportive and largely positive. It is competitive, of course, as all businesses are but there is a friendliness and positivity in telecoms that I really appreciate. There is so much potential, particularly at this juncture. This is a very important time and it’s great to be a part of that.
Why is a thriving telecoms ecosystem important for the UK?
Hinkson: It's important for lots of reasons. The telecoms ecosystem touches almost every aspect of our lives. It’s an incredibly interesting landscape. But it is also complex and now involves adjacent technologies such as photonics, AI or compound semiconductors, for example. It is important that we do whatever we can to harness its potential and spur a broader, healthy sector that supports further growth for the UK economy. It’s a big task but one which we are going to face head-on, and UKTIN has a central role to play.
Osbaldeston: The telecoms business provides a huge amount of revenue for the UK and keeps a lot of people employed. It’s been a very important part of our economy for a long time and it faces a lot of challenges. It is very much a global market. I think the UK has a huge advantage in some areas and from a research perspective, it is very strong. There is so much intellectual capital here. It is crucial that we make the most of this and lay the foundations for the next five, ten and 15 years plus. That will be a job well done. But it’s a big job. The good news is that UKTIN has an exciting plan and there are lots of talented people that will be working very hard to achieve it.
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