The Scottish Government has confirmed a £4 million funding package to accelerate the establishment of a network of hubs to support the adoption of 5G and help accelerate economic growth.
The announcement coincides with the launch of the Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC) S5GConnect Programme.
This is designed to help bridge the gap between academia, industry and government bodies to accelerate 5G deployment and the adoption of 5G services to enable businesses, organisations and people to reap the benefits of this new connectivity platform.
It will build on Scotland’s existing Innovation Centres and government initiatives to accelerate the post pandemic recovery and address the digital gap that has been highlighted as key to ensuring Scotland’s business sectors, health care and education can thrive in the new economic environment
The hubs will work with mobile operators and private network providers to accelerate regional 5G networks, offer a private network with advanced capabilities, as well as access to an accelerator facility and mentoring schemes.
To reflect the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the Scottish economy, the hubs will also provide specific support packages for small businesses. They will support SME engagement where they can develop, prototype and test real-world experiments and use cases over a 5G innovation platform, offer one-to-one consultancy and professional support to develop and scale businesses.
The first hub will be located in Alloa, Clackmannanshire serving the wider Forth Valley region, and builds on a partnership between Scotland’s International Environment Centre, which is part of the University of Stirling, and BT, the telecoms group.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Scotland’s minister for energy, connectivity, and the islands, said: “The 5G revolution presents a significant opportunity for Scotland in the years ahead, particularly as we look to build the economic recovery on the back of Covid-19. Now is the time to develop something special for Scotland, by establishing a framework on which we can enhance and widen digital connectivity in all parts of the country through next-generation technologies.
“Potential locations for additional hubs across Scotland are being reviewed, with plans for further rollout over the course of 2020 and 2021. A study conducted by Deloitte in 2019 found that harnessing enhanced 4G and 5G connectivity could increase Scotland’s GDP by more than £17 billion by 2035.”
Paul Coffey, chief executive at The Scotland 5G Centre, said: “We are delighted to be launching the S5GConnect programme today and to be able to start the process of offering businesses across Scotland the opportunity to get involved in the acceleration of 5G deployment. The role of the Scotland 5G Centre is to act as a catalyst for bringing together industry, academia and the public sector and this programme allows us to do that.We are excited to begin working with industry partners from a variety of sectors on this initiative.
“5G deployment has commenced, but the technology is still nascent – and some of the new use cases are still a few years away. The S5GConnect Hubs will play a key role in accelerating that process and making the potential of 5G a reality. They will think nationally, but act locally, bringing together global and national priorities with local expertise through the reach of existing regional centres and organisations.
“We are working in tandem with the national network of development agencies and enterprise accelerators to establish these facilities quickly. This is a hugely exciting development for Scotland and the wider UK 5G ecosystem and we look forward to announcing more hubs in the near future.”
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