5G industry news Acceleration & Innovation

Meet the UKTIN delivery partners: Digital Catapult

  • 5 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 24 Nov 2022
  • Last modified 24 Nov 2022
UKTIN—a new innovation network for the UK telecoms sector—is being delivered by a consortium of four partners, led by Digital Catapult, with CW (Cambridge Wireless), the University of Bristol and WM5G.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing you to these partners and hearing their thoughts on what UKTIN will offer. We spoke to Dritan Kaleshi, Director of Technology - 5G and Co-Director of SONIC Labs at Digital Catapult.

What is the role of your organisation in UKTIN?

Our role in UKTIN is to convene the UK’s telecommunications Research and Development (R&D) ecosystem to provide direct input into the government’s telecoms R&D strategy, which aims to grow capability in the UK to enable and support the diversification of the UK’s telecoms supply chain. Digital Catapult is the lead partner in the consortium, but we see UKTIN as a balanced consortium representing the whole UK telecommunication ecosystem with the ability to collaborate and leverage the individual skills, expertise and stakeholder reach of all four partners in the UKTIN consortium.

As the UK’s authority on advanced digital technology, Digital Catapult is focused on growing UK telecoms Research and Development (R&D) capabilities and exploring how these can be translated to companies and into products and services. We’ll bring this knowledge to support the UKTIN in creating an information and ideas hub for industry and academics looking to shape, collaborate, and access R&D funding, experimental testing facilities and opportunities to collaborate on developing new mobile and broadband technology capability in the UK. 

Why did you want to be part of  UKTIN?

As an active part of the R&D and innovation telecommunication ecosystem in the UK, Digital Catapult has an in depth understanding of the often world-leading capabilities in relevant areas of UK academic research, the historical leading role that UK has played in different areas of the telecommunication system and the current state of industrial telecommunications research in the UK. We also understand the need for the UK to grow overall telecoms R&D capabilities and to contribute more significantly to the development of future telecommunication systems.

We’re already working to actively push forward R&D and innovation of the telecommunication ecosystem in the UK through participating proactively in R&D projects, as well as through working on 5G technology adoption exploration in private enterprise networks with a range of partners.

For Digital Catapult, UKTIN provides a clear opportunity to play a role in further developing digital infrastructure in the UK and growing UK capabilities from academia into exploitation. It also supports our wider aim to help and enable the UK telecoms ecosystem to identify and shape its future capabilities through a growing community. 

What is the biggest challenge facing the UK telecoms ecosystem?

At a time when the world is changing dramatically due to a combination of technology maturation, communication and compute convergence, softwarisation, and the emergence of new telecommunication systems, including 6G - we are in a once-in-a-generation change in telecommunication systems. 

The diversification of the telecommunication supply chain is a big, immediate challenge  and open networks are expected to play a significant role. Part of addressing this challenge is not only to find ways to contribute to  the near term aspects, but also to grow R&D capabilities now in order to be better prepared for challenges we know we will continue to face in five to ten years from now - not least to leverage the 6G development opportunity.

To do this we need to develop an innovation community and continue to research and expand our ecosystem in the UK, both in academia and industry. Enabling this to happen is critical for our future. 

Where lies the biggest opportunity? 

There is not so much a single opportunity space - as there are many challenges faced by an industry that is constantly changing. 

How the UK telecoms R&D ecosystem comes together to develop and grow more joint up capabilities, how research discoveries and inventions are taken through an innovation process to result in end products, and how these capabilities can be matured to deliver against future telecommunication systems that we, ourselves, as users of the system would want to see are all key areas to explore. Answering these questions will unlock significant opportunities for the UK telecoms ecosystem and economic growth. 

This is where the UKTIN role lies - and we now have the opportunity to bring the community together to help address and define the future together.

What do you hope to achieve within UKTIN?

A key focus for UKTIN will be to quickly bring together an inclusive and collaborative community in the UK that is willing to exchange knowledge, share information and work together to grow UK telecommunications R&D capabilities. Working towards signposting technology R&D capabilities in the UK, exploring the way the ecosystem thinks it can grow, and making recommendations on interventions to help this happen are all key areas of focus for us within the next twelve months.

We will also work closely with industry to address requests for near term engagement and support, signpost and convene the UK telecoms R&D ecosystem to input into the UK government’s mid-to-long term telecoms strategy, as well as exploring the recommendations and expectations of the UK telecoms community.

You can read the interview with WM5G here.