Home5GScotland opens 5G hubs in Strathclyde, Glasgow – to be at ‘forefront’ of Industry 4.0

Scotland opens 5G hubs in Strathclyde, Glasgow – to be at ‘forefront’ of Industry 4.0

The Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC), a government-sponsored research centre with the universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow, has opened new private 5G network testbeds in Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, in Scotland. The new additions take the total number of S5GC testbeds to five, following installations in Forth Valley, Dundee, and Dumfries. The Scottish government has committed £4 million to the project, to power 5G-spurred economic growth in the country.

The Scottish government’s 5G strategy seeks to provide public funding and infrastructure, to go with private contributions, and to complement the efforts of public network operators, to put the country “at the forefront of [the ‘fourth’ industrial] revolution”. Scotland can add £17 billion and 160,000 jobs in economic value by 2035 by “enhancing [its] 5G capability”, the government reckons.

All five hubs are positioned as ‘business enablers’ for strategic partnerships with enterprises and universities – “to leverage new applications and services, enabled through 5G”. A statement said: “Specialist staff will support companies to develop, prototype, and test real-world applications and use cases over a 5G innovation platform, gain one-to-one consultancy and professional support to develop and scale businesses at no initial cost to the user.”

The new testbed (‘hub’) in Aberdeen in the Grampian region is a partnership with Opportunity North East (ONE), a private sector catalyst for economic change in Scotland’s north east. The Kilmarnock testbed in Ayrshire will be led by HALO Kilmarnock, the Scottish wing of the UK-wide HALO urban regeneration initiative; it will be hosted at The HALO Enterprise and Innovation Centre at The HALO Digital & Cyber Innovation Park.

They will both engage with small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region, and put focus on digital skills and digital solutions. A number of exec quotes, provided with a press release, name-check sundry artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, to be put to use also for ‘green’ ends. The S5GC initiative has so far engaged over 400 businesses “on the transformational benefits of 5G technology”, it claimed.

The S5GC hub in Dumfries, opened late last year at the Crichton Centre, an environmental charity focused on rural land management, is billed as its “first rural hub”. It is focused on developing remote healthcare in rural regions. A ‘holoportation’ demo, a version of the AR-style remote-access case that has been fruitful in industrial 5G setups, puts rural practitioners in touch with remote expert clinicians.

The Forth Valley hub, also opened at the end of 2021, is for “businesses of all sizes”; its website talks about building “connections with researchers at Scotland’s International Environment Centre, part of the University of Stirling, and their project to build a green data recovery platform which will create a digital twin to support Scotland’s Net Zero economy”. The Dundee site, opened earlier this year, is focused on “interactive technologies, AI, virtual reality, and automation”, and has partnered with Abertay University’s Emergent Technology Centre and the InGAME R&D centre.

Kate Forbes, secretary for the economy, said: “The S5GC Hub programme is playing an important role in unlocking the power of 5G, helping SMEs with the skills they need to understand how 5G can benefit their business. This transformational technology could provide Scotland with competitive advantage and, most importantly, improve quality of life for citizens and businesses across the country as we rebuild a sustainable economy with good jobs at its heart.”

Paul Coffey, chief executive at S5GC, said: “Our expanding hub network will unlock growth and innovation, augmented through 5G network capabilities, and re-imagine customer processes and outcomes through data, AI/AR and machine learning. Acting as a catalyst to place Scotland at the forefront of digital connectivity, each hub will build on regional engagement, job creation and skills development by supporting key sectors and businesses.”

Jennifer Craw, chief executive at Opportunity North East, said: “Locating the S5GConnect Hub within ONE Tech Hub provides businesses and tech developers with the opportunity to demonstrate, develop and apply 5G connectivity in new applications and ensure the region’s key sectors continue to be at the forefront of digital and technology developments and further strengthens ONE Tech Hub as the forum for the digital ecosystem.”

Marie Macklin, founder and executive chair of the HALO, said: “The HALO is setting the standard for low carbon energy sites across the UK offering a state-of-the-art environment for entrepreneurs specialising in green growth by building a sustainable community powered by renewable energy. [This] will further enhance our community approach to providing digital and cyber jobs with skills development, economic growth, and employment opportunities.”

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