Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has confirmed that the county has been successful in its bid for Government funding to test and explore 5G connectivity, in order to revolutionise the way future business will operate both in the UK and globally.

5G is the next generation of mobile technology. When it becomes available in the UK in the next three years, 5G is expected to have a profound impact on the global economy and the way people live their lives. According to the GSMA, as many as 1.4 billion 5G connections are predicted by 2025, as well as a host of new technologies not yet imagined.

From its launch next month, The Worcestershire 5G Consortium will begin the country’s most comprehensive industrial 5G Testbed trial with a team of 5G specialists and business experts pioneering the concept of ‘Industry 4.0’. The consortium of partners includes local infrastructure providers, national network operators and research and development facilities. They are: Worcestershire County Council, 5GIC at University of Surrey, AWTG, Huawei, O2, BT, and Malvern Hills Science Park.

The 5G Testbed will provide a revolutionary platform for local and national businesses to develop next-generation technology focused on improving the UK’s industrial productivity. Worcester Bosch and Yamazaki Mazak have already been selected to experiment with preventative and assisted maintenance using robotics, big data analytics and augmented reality. QinetiQ, the multinational defence technology company, will use the Test Bed to advance cyber security application, providing assurances on the ‘security by design’ of IoT technology.

Worcestershire LEP and the 5G Testbed consortium is already working to increase the pool of local expertise, and is welcoming interest from enterprises looking to increase industrial productivity. To fuel interest, the consortium has commissioned the creation of new courses at local academic institutions The University of Worcester and Heart of Worcestershire College. Entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to test 5G capabilities in a new commercial technology accelerator located at the Malvern Hills Science Park.

Worcestershire LEP is taking the lead in building a connected, creative, dynamic economy that delivers increased prosperity for all those who choose to live, work, and invest in Worcestershire. The LEP is now working with the Midlands Engine with a view to widening the availability of 5G across the region.

Mark Stansfeld, Chair of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership and 5G lead for Midlands Engine, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in our bid to help businesses deliver greater productivity using 5G technologies. This highlights the huge ambition of Worcestershire’s innovative public and private sector.  

“5G connectivity is set to revolutionise the way that future business will operate both in the UK and globally with key Worcestershire employers leading the way in Industry 4.0. I believe that the introduction of these technologies will have an extremely positive impact in allowing businesses to create new innovative products, raise productivity and improve economic growth.

“At a time of increasing global competition for trade and investment, we are confident that we can act as a catalyst for technological innovation in the wider Midlands Engine and nationally. We welcome opportunities for collaboration with the UK’s most innovative minds.”

Worcestershire County Council Representative, said: “In awarding the £4.8m grant funding to Worcestershire, Central Government has recognised the focus, expertise and commitment our partners have demonstrated to make this project possible. It should be acknowledged that private sector partners are committed, contributing their own money and resource into the project, approaching £3m in value.”

Prof Rahim Tafazolli, Director of the 5G Innovation Centre, Europe’s largest academic centre for 5G development said: “Worcestershire LEP has demonstrated very advanced vision in its drive to be leading centre for the use of 5G in Industry 4.0 factory automation, Cybersecurity Applications, Robotics and Agritech. The 5GIC is very pleased indeed to be a partner in this exciting proposal, which we believe is world class. We are particularly excited by the opportunity this will provide to engage the international telecommunications companies, which are members of 5GIC.”

The 5G Testbed consortium is open to exploring new opportunities for application and product development and is welcoming interest from the UK’s most innovative minds. To find out more or to get involved, people are being urged to contact enquiries@wlep.co.uk.

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