North West

A thriving digital economy builds on a long history of invention and innovation

From pioneering artificial intelligence to developing the world’s first stored-program computer, the North West has a proud pedigree which it continues to build on.  Today the value of Manchester’s digital ecosystem makes it officially the UK’s top digital tech city, while Liverpool boasts £2bn of R&D investment in the last five years and is home to the National Centre for Digital Innovation, driving AI and Big Data expertise.

Learn more about the 5G landscape in Liverpool

North West
  • £5 bn

    Value of Manchester's digital ecosystem

  • 5 %

    Liverpool's R&D investment target by 2030, nearly double the UK target

  • £210 m

    investment in the National Centre for Digital Innovation

Technologies & trends

The region boasts expertise and capabilities in a number of key telecom fields.  Learn more about the relevant technologies.


The potential benefits of 5G, future wireless generations and full-fibre digital connectivity can only be realised if we have confidence in the resilience of our infrastructure.

The North West Cyber Security Cluster is a collaborative of cyber security professionals and experts within their field who provide support, collaboration and networking opportunities to SMEs and start-ups in the technology and cyber security sector.

Innovation projects taking place in the region that are exploring security in open networks include Best of British RAN Development and the Towards AI Powered and Secure Carrier-Grade Open RAN Platform project.

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Telecom Network Security
Core Networking Technologies

Core networks are critical infrastructure and new digital technologies and trends have the potential to disrupt and transform, ensuring capabilities, resilience and performance can meet emerging and future needs.

The region has seen a number of 5G focused innovation projects and the deployment of 5G standalone networks across transport, manufacturing and health and social care applications, including 5G Smart Junctions in Manchester, 5G Factory of the Future in Lancashire, and Liverpool 5G Create. 

Today, the Best of British RAN development project is conducting trials in Liverpool while the Towards AI Powered and Secure Carrier-Grade Open RAN Platform project, part-based in Manchester, is realising a carrier-grade cloud solution, enabling operators to deploy Open RAN network functions easily and securely, with a focus on lowering the barrier to entry for new entrants.

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Core networking technologies
Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is disrupting industry on a broad scale and the telecoms sector is no exception, with Valuates projecting that the global AI in telecoms market size will reach $14.99B by 2027, up from $11.89B in 2020. 

The North West Digital Tech Cluster works with organisations across diverse sectors to unlock the transformative potential of digital technologies including AI, enable the growth of a collaborative, organic ecosystem that is anchored to these businesses and build nationally significant strengths and capabilities of the region. The Cluster sets out to give businesses access to the The Science and Technology Facilities Council's supercomputing, data analytics and AI facilities and expertise.

The region's universities are also active in the field. Artificial intelligence research is a major investment priority for Manchester Metropolitan University and is led by their Centre for Advanced Computational Science.  The university delivers work through extensive partnerships with businesses, industrial partners, local authorities, NHS Foundation Trusts and policymakers. They also lead the £12m Greater Manchester AI and Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry initiatives – working with SMEs to introduce new products and services in areas like disease detection and autonomous vehicles.

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Artificial Intelligence

Diversification of the telecoms supply chain is ultimately about choice, a desire to broaden the choice of equipment and solution providers in the sector-driven by commercial, technical and geopolitical factors. 

The Best of British RAN Development project, part of the Future RAN Competition, is deploying trials in Liverpool, while the Towards AI Powered and Secure Carrier-Grade Open RAN Platform project is based in Manchester, as well as other locations throughout the UK.

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Telecoms tower

Deploying 5G in Places

We've spoken to local authorities up and down the UK, to hear first hand how they've approached digital infrastructure and connectivity programmes. Designed to be both practical and pragmatic, we've collated insights, assets and guides that can be replicated and adapted to help you on your journey to 5G.

Discover some of the ways you can seize the opportunity and be better connected.