The UK’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) recently rewarded 10 regions with funding from a £40 million budget aimed at implementing innovative 5G-enabled services. The selected districts demonstrated compelling plans on how they would apply 5G technology in various fields such as port operations, high-capacity uplinks for on-location filming, and wireless transport links. The allocated funds, however, amounted to a slightly lower total of £36 million.
Interestingly, the range of applications for these new 5G Innovation Regions demonstrates a wide variety of intriguing use cases. For instance, Belfast City Council received £3.8 million to fund an array of 5G projects including digital port operations and high-capacity uplinks for on-location filming. North Ayrshire secured the same amount to support the development of advanced manufacturing technology. Furthermore, councils in Greater Manchester are planning to use their £3 million on smart energy grids and congestion-reducing digital road networks.
Meanwhile, Sussex is interested in using its £3.8 million to aid the introduction of 5G-enabled farming to increase sustainable food and drink production. Cumberland aims to leverage 5G in enhancing the tourism sector, and Oxfordshire plans to establish 5G science parks to encourage research in quantum computing, space, health, and energy.
Praising these efforts, Minister of Data and Digital Infrastructure Sir John Whittingdale shared, “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.” He emphasized that beyond connecting smartphones, this initiative seeks to leverage digital technology to revamp various sectors across the nation.
This initiative aligns with the UK government’s evident interest in technology. Besides 5G, the government also recently financed a £17 million venture to provide 2,000 scholarships in AI and data science conversion courses, targeting young individuals underrepresented in the industry.
The UK was ranked first in Europe and third globally in AI technologies development in a 2021 report by Deep Knowledge Analytics, Big Innovation Centre, and Innovation Eye. The UK government hopes to maintain this position by cultivating new talent through such public funding and urging companies to co-sponsor these scholarships.
Sharing about the scheme, Science Minister George Freeman mentioned, “The UK is one of the world’s most advanced AI economies… It is therefore essential that we continue to equip our workforce with the skills they need in this important technology…” The next round of the AI scholarship scheme is set to begin in April 2023 and will run until 2025.