5G tower at sunset

New fund launched to drive digital innovation

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has announced the launch of a new fund that will help local areas across the United Kingdom to drive up their digital connectivity.

Applications are open for the £40 million fund, with local and regional authorities able to be allocated a share of the funding, which is aiming to accelerate innovation across sectors including advanced manufacturing, transport, agriculture, and public services. The overall aim being to make places better connected, the money will create 5G Innovation Regions in the areas that can demonstrate how they plan to enhance the development and adoption of 5G, alongside other technologies.

Whilst the adoption of 5G and other connectivity technologies will help areas across the UK to take full advantage of the connectivity and other benefits, it will also attract additional commercial investment to communities, growing the economy.

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

“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.

“5G Innovation Regions will be uniquely positioned to benefit from breaking down barriers which hinder the rollout of such technologies at a local level and this initiative offers every community the chance to gain these opportunities.

“Improving connectivity through a world-class digital infrastructure is one of the core components of the government’s plans to level up every community in the UK and I encourage local areas to apply and to be ambitious in their vision for reaping the rewards of 5G.”

Research into connectivity has shown that widespread 5G adoption could lead to productivity benefits of £159 billion by 20135. With this in mind, examples of how the technology could be applied could include connected sensors that analyse air quality by improving traffic management, or self-deploying drones that can scan fields and crops and collect weather and environmental data.

 The transformational impacts of better connectivity through 5G and other wireless technologies include faster, more reliable, more secure connections for residents and businesses, further boosting of local economies and improving the delivery of public services. This is underpinned in the government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, setting out how new and emerging technologies will be supported through developments in advanced wireless connectivity.

Government’s ambitions of building a more inclusive, competitive, and innovative digital economy will be heavily supported by the embracing of digital transformation, with this hopefully supporting the creation of new jobs in emerging sectors.

Chief Executive of Mobile UK, Hamish Macleod, added:

“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.”

The UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN) will work alongside 5G Innovation Regions to help drive the adoption of 5G in key sectors such as transport, with UKTIN’s nationwide campaign bringing businesses together with telecoms providers and vendors. The aim of this will be to help them better understand the benefits of 5G, as well as how this technology can be accessed.

Successful 5G Innovation Regions will run until March 2025, with support being provided by the DSIT Future Network Programmes team and UKTIN. This support will see regions assisted in the development of their own digital ecosystems whilst taking advantage of new and emerging technologies and furthering local and national projects such as Investment Zones, Project Gigabit and Devolution.


Image credit: iStock

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