S5GC CEO Paul Coffey Comments on Scottish Government’s New National Strategy for Economic Transformation

Paul Coffey, Chief Executive, Scotland 5G Centre, comments on the Centre’s role to deliver the Scottish Government’s new National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

As an innovation centre, funded by the Scottish Government, to accelerate the adoption of 5G in Scotland, we have a key role in delivering this new economic plan.

We welcome the Scottish Government’s ambition for economic transformation, and it is vital that the Scotland 5G Centre is completely embedded in this strategy.

What is clear, is that in order to lead and deliver economic transformation and prosperity, the new strategy is heavily reliant on digital connectivity. New innovations and entrepreneurial ideas need the newest technology.  Connectivity underpins the strategy’s aim to support every community in every region.  It is also the foundation crucial to enable and support productivity gains of existing regional industries and enterprises.

As Scotland’s gateway for advanced connectivity, advancing Scotland’s wireless connectivity, including 5G is front and centre of the transformational plan.   We are already bringing together entrepreneurs with a network of SMEs through to corporates, academia and government bodies.  Our S5GConnect Programme is delivering a network of ‘hubs’ to enable businesses to understand how their business and sector can be more innovative, productive, and be digital leaders within their regions.   We offer opportunities and benefits of 5G throughout cities, towns and remote rural locations.

The Scotland 5G Centre acts as an enabler and already work with partners, businesses, public sector, universities and communities in Scotland and the rest of the UK to capture the opportunities and benefits of 5G.   What is clear is that this National Strategy not only recognises the importance of this collaboration to drive productivity, it also recognises the need to invest in quality infrastructure and connectivity to ensure the Strategy’s success.

As we are leading the 5G ecosystem in Scotland, we will be part of the team to improve connectivity infrastructure and digital adoption across the economy.  As well as supporting the adoption and successful integration of advanced technologies.  This will require continued investment to enhance the digital infrastructure.    Research shows that investment will pay dividends.   A recent report by WPI Economics, commissioned by Vodafone, looked at how 5G can boost productivity.  Its findings demonstrated 5G could add over £150 billion to the UK economy by 2030. But to achieve this significant investment is required to roll out and maintain 5G networks, build more mobile sites and develop new 5G applications and technologies.

Our work across Scotland demonstrates that one size does not fit all.   Regions have their own geography, business expertise and culture.   We commend the Strategy’s commitment to reinforcing regional collaboration, with the emphasis on tailoring support based on regional strengths and opportunities.

Our first rural innovation hub in Dumfries collaborates with the South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) and the Crichton business and enterprise centre to support the regional economic strategy and support the region’s growth.   The hub has a live test bed and offers expertise to the ecosystem of SMEs, businesses, academic and public sector partners in the South.   The Centre supports local networks and businesses and identifies transformational interventions.   We are currently working with agriculture to bring innovative changes that provide efficiencies and cost savings.  In healthcare, digital solutions are offering huge benefits to patients and families and we will be launching this Spring our first Innovation Challenge focused in this sector.

Enabling business by providing critical infrastructure is key to any transformational strategy.   We recognise that progress is being made with the R100 and Scottish 4G Infill, however we need to go a step further by supporting more fixed wireless access to premises, enable more businesses with 5G public and private networks and facilitating discussion on investing in neutral host infrastructure.  The S5GC is best placed to help get infrastructure in place to help achieve the productivity aims in this strategy and put Scotland on a global platform.

Technology ignores geography and it is also part of the levelling up agenda and creating opportunities for all, wherever you live and work.   Digital technology also has a clear role to play in achieving the green targets. The S5GC is the lynchpin to innovating, influencing and setting the pathway for the delivery of the National Strategy.

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