Supplier Specialist Guidance: UKTIN’s Telco Concierge Service

Written by Roger Hinkson

Supplier Specialist Guidance: UKTIN's Telco Concierge Service

If anything has become clear over the past twelve months, it’s that navigating the telecoms industry is far from linear, exacerbated by the continuing convergence of IT and telco in the enterprise arena. For me and my colleagues who make up UKTIN’s Supplier Specialist Guidance Service team, this means that mapping our ecosystem and arming our members for success is a complex undertaking. At its core, however, our aim is a simple one: to catalyse new relationships that will contribute to the future of our sector. This comes with a lot of responsibility and we don’t take it lightly.

Our core services fall under four main pillars (with some overlap, as you might expect): we’re a signpost for testbeds, expertise, and facilities; we offer business support; we provide funding advice; and — a growing element of our practice — we forge connections beyond UK borders, providing international advisory support for companies looking to enter the UK.

Over the past 12 months, we’ve conducted more than 400 unique dialogues and fielded over 250 requests for matchmaking between suppliers and other players within the telecoms industry. We have helped put together dream teams. Of the 19 winning consortia in the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology’s £88 million Open Networks Ecosystem Competition, we provided matchmaking and support services to 13 entrants. Matchmaking typically involves directing start-ups and SMEs to the sector’s bigger players with gaps to plug, but it goes in the other direction too: the likes of Cisco, BT, and Virgin Media O2 all have corporate venture and innovation arms that have welcomed our insights  on what’s next. 

Signposting entrepreneurs and innovators towards the funding they need to get ideas off the ground is a vital part of what we do. Funds don’t just come from competitions, so we keep tabs on grant calls — filtering and highlighting relevant opportunities, and publishing them on the UKTIN website. To date, we’ve advertised more than 40 funding calls on the UKTIN site, and the page remains one of the most visited on the site.

When international organisations or companies based abroad want help navigating the UK’s complex telecoms sector, UKTIN has become a reliable interlocutor. For example we have engaged with a company providing 5G solutions and a large telco operator, both from the Nordics. Each has looked to UKTIN for help with developing necessary connections with businesses and industries, with setting up operations and future investment in R&D in the UK in mind. Elsewhere, UKTIN is in discussion with Business Finland, the trade and investment arm of the Finnish government, on how UKTIN can support a select number of Finnish telecoms companies to set up and do business in the UK.

Many of our interactions are virtual— but a great deal has also taken place in person, at events dotted around the country. On top of UKTIN’s own events, we’ve crossed halls, pressed the flesh, and forged new connections at Connected North and Connected Britain, as well as ECOC in Glasgow, TOP (Telecommunications, Optical and Photonics) conference, the 6G Symposium, and plenty more. Add MWC to the mix in February, where we engaged with well over 150 contacts, and our step counts have sailed into the stratosphere! 

Getting out of the mobile telecoms echo chamber has been key, and the broad church that we’ve managed to establish is reflective of the wider landscape of our modern sector. We’ve been able to impress upon those working in fixed photonics, semiconductors and space tech — as well as systems and application areas.

The fragmentation challenge isn’t one that’s going to be solved overnight. We are operating at pace, having hundreds of dialogues, and making the right connections — connections which, hopefully, will make a difference to the shape and long-term sustainability of our industry. 

While we’re busy joining the dots, the telecoms universe is expanding. The addition of adjacent technologies like quantum and AI will only add more complexity to our fragmented ecosystem, and the Supplier Specialist Guidance Service will need to continue to grow and adapt in order to meet that demand — and fuse our fragments.

Over the next 12 months, we expect to continue raising the profile of our service across the whole sector. As our work progresses we’ll be able to develop relationships further both within individual organisations, and across the industry and ecosystem as a whole. Our sector will be better for it.


“The expertise and insights from the UKTIN team played a crucial role in our success, enabling us to connect with diverse UK entities that would have been challenging without their support. The introductions we received facilitated strategic decision-making resulting in  positive outcomes for Spry Fox Networks. The collaborative approach and dedication of UKTIN have unquestionably made a significant impact on our business journey.” – Steven Ballantyne, Director, Spry Fox Networks

What’s coming next:

  • New and improved funding section on the UKTIN website to help organisations more easily find the funding opportunities for them
  • Outreach campaigns in South Korea and Japan to raise awareness of the opportunities in UK telecoms
  • Further Investor Briefing events to raise the profile of telecoms as an exciting field for investment, and connect companies raising funds with investors

Find out more & book an appointment with our Supplier Specialist Guidance Service team.

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