Building on the UK’s regional and national strengths, UKTIN’s Clusters Group provides an open forum for inter-regional collaboration, sharing best practices, insights and dissemination of learnings. Its overarching aim is to advance the adoption of advanced connectivity and has been designed to ensure all regions and nations of the UK can benefit equally.
The group focuses on showcasing and highlighting the capabilities and approaches of individual regions. In a recent Clusters Group meeting, Nick Mellors, Director of Innovation Nottinghamshire, shared his insights.
What does the telecoms landscape look like in the East Midlands t?
The diversity of the telecoms landscape reflects the diversity of our economy and landscape. The region also has a long history of involvement in the telecoms industry: Ericsson Telephones Ltd was founded in Nottingham in 1903 and Loughborough University’s current 5G Research Centre grew out of the Centre for Mobile Communications Research established in 1998.
There are also a lot of new facilities, including the legacy of DCMS’s 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme which enabled the Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) based in Melton Mowbray with a 5G test track, and a 5G testbed in the historic Rufford Abbey which was created within the 5G Connected Forest project.
Elsewhere, Nottingham Trent University is home to the Smart Wireless Innovation Facility (SWIFt) which includes 5G and other advanced wireless living labs; over in Lincolnshire, there is a strong focus on 5G and advanced wireless in the agricultural and offshore energy industries. Some great facilities are open to the industry: for example, the world’s biggest offshore wind ‘5G living lab’ - created by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) - hosted a 5G testbed in the world’s first global centre of excellence in agricultural robotics.
How does Innovation Nottinghamshire fit into this? How does it operate?
At Innovation Nottinghamshire, we believe passionately that high-speed, reliable advanced digital connectivity is fundamental to the future: for our young people, our businesses, the delivery of our public services as well as our communities in general.
We led the creation of a new digital innovation hub in Worksop in north Nottinghamshire, which has supported over 100 local businesses with advice, signposting and a platform for showcasing their innovation.
We have also created the UK’s first 5G Careers programme which has now run with every FE College in the county as well as several of our schools and youth education providers. Over 1,700 young people have had the opportunity to start to understand how 5G and advanced digital connectivity are changing the world of work. We’re not ‘teaching 5G’; we are helping to create the future business leaders and customers for tomorrow’s UK telecoms industry.
Contributing to the UK’s broader aims
As a part of the preparation for a potential 5G Innovation Region bid, we did a stocktake of all the 5G & advanced wireless-related activity we could find across the region. The results were also shared with the UKTIN Clusters Advisory Group, which I am a part of. There’s a copy of the directory of assets and activities, along with contact points for all the major ones, on the UKTIN website.