UK launches £40M fund to drive local IoT and 5G innovation

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The UK is launching a £40 million fund aimed at enhancing digital connectivity and fostering the development of advanced wireless technologies.

Local areas nationwide will be empowered to create smarter and more connected communities, with potential applications ranging from futuristic farming to cutting-edge healthcare solutions, all made possible by the IoT and 5G connectivity.

Starting today, local and regional authorities can submit applications to secure a portion of the multi-million-pound fund, designed to fast-track innovation in sectors like advanced manufacturing, transport, agriculture, and public services.

The primary goal is to establish 5G Innovation Regions, where funding will be allocated to areas that demonstrate a strong potential to drive the adoption and development of 5G and other transformative technologies.

The benefits of 5G-powered IoT technologies are immense. By leveraging advanced wireless connectivity, local communities in towns, cities, and rural areas can unlock new economic opportunities, attract commercial investments, and improve the delivery of public services. With the ability to connect various sensors and devices, the potential applications are far-reaching.

One such application involves deploying 5G-enabled drones to scan fields and crops, gathering real-time data on weather and environmental conditions—empowering farmers to make data-driven decisions for more efficient agriculture. Additionally, the integration of 5G sensors to analyse and manage traffic can lead to better air quality and reduced congestion in urban centres, enhancing the overall quality of life.

Research has shown that the widespread adoption of 5G could yield productivity benefits of up to £159 billion by 2035, further reinforcing the importance of investing in cutting-edge wireless technologies.

Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, commented:

“Greater adoption of 5G-powered technologies will help deliver more efficient public services, new opportunities for residents and businesses, and a boost for economic growth—and this new fund will give local areas from across the country the opportunity to be at the forefront of Britain’s world-leading 5G revolution.”

The creation of 5G Innovation Regions will be instrumental in breaking down barriers that may impede the rollout of advanced wireless technologies at the local level. It provides every community with an opportunity to lead the UK’s world-leading 5G revolution, ensuring a more inclusive and connected society.

Hamish MacLeod, Chief Executive of Mobile UK, said:

“Driving adoption of 5G is key to releasing the full benefits of this technology, and the government’s new £40 million fund to support Innovation Regions is an important step.

I look forward to seeing the active participation of local and regional authorities whose communities and businesses will be better positioned to realise the benefits of advanced wireless connectivity.

Advanced wireless technologies will also be key to driving the government’s ambitions to harness digital transformation to build a more inclusive, competitive and innovative digital economy, supporting the creation of good jobs in new and emerging sectors, and providing reliable high-speed connectivity for residents and businesses.”

To complement the 5G Innovation Regions, the UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN) will launch a nationwide campaign to foster collaborations between businesses, telecoms providers, and vendors interested in adopting 5G services.

The new campaign will enlighten companies about the benefits of 5G and provide guidance on accessing this transformative technology across sectors such as transportation and manufacturing.

Nick Johnson, Head of UKTIN, commented:

“Our recently expanded remit now encompasses the Government’s adoption agenda, bringing this important work to the foreground of what we do. As such, driving demand and supporting key industrial sectors and places to adopt and deploy advanced wireless connectivity solutions including 5G are critical to delivering on our mission.

We’re working with clusters of innovation and capability across the UK to understand the challenges, raise awareness and help make it easier to take advantage of telecoms services and solutions, both now and in future. What this means for 5G Innovation Regions is that we’ll be collaborating with the successful local and regional authorities to understand and disseminate their learnings to all regions and devolved nations, ensuring the whole of the UK has access to actionable insights.

We’ll also be developing practical and pragmatic toolkits to support different locations and vertical sectors as they navigate the complexity of what, when and how to deploy solutions. It is only by creating demand and helping organisations navigate the technology adoption hurdles in this way that we can realise the true potential of new innovations.”

Successful bidders for the 5G Innovation Regions will receive government support through the DSIT Future Network Programmes team and UKTIN until March 2025. This backing will enable them to develop robust digital ecosystems, capitalise on emerging technologies, and synergise with national initiatives like Project Gigabit, Investment Zones, and devolution deals to stimulate local digital growth.

Applications for the fund will close on September 3rd, and the winning bidders will be announced later this year.

(Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash)

See also: UKAEA will develop a fusion energy plant in the metaverse

Want to learn about the IoT from industry leaders? Check out IoT Tech Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. The event is co-located with Digital Transformation Week.

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