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The Scotland 5G Centre: 2021 Key Highlights

As 2021 comes to an end, The Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC) reflects on another rewarding year.

2021 is nearly over and what a year it has been. Looking back at our achievements over the past year, we can end the year on a high with all the milestones we have successfully reached.

The Coronavirus pandemic and the economic impact this has had, has presented many challenges for all of us as a nation however the progress we’ve made as a team and as a Centre has been outstanding as we consolidate partnerships, develop collaborative projects and help businesses and communities realise the economic and societal potential of 5G for Scotland.

At the beginning of 2021, S5GC recruited experts from industry, academia and the public sector to form a Strategic Advisory Board, aiming to accentuate Scotland’s position as a leading 5G nation.

Chaired by Claire Gillespie, Digital Technologies Sector Skills Manager at Skills Development Scotland, the group uses its collective experiences to put Scotland firmly on the global 5G map – something which S5GC has been celebrated for.

The Centre successfully bid for the UK Government’s Future Radio Access Network Competition, as part of 5G DU-Volution Consortium to support the “Future Radio Access Network: Diversifying the 5G Supply Chain” programme. S5GC was also nominated as a finalist in the Multiparty Collaboration category at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards – a great achievement as the organisation received a record number of applications over its 8 categories.

Over the course of 2021, the Centre has continued to build the S5GConnect hub network, announcing two additional S5GConnect hubs in Dumfries and Dundee, following the announcement of the S5GConnect Forth Valley hub in the latter half of 2020.

S5GConnect Dundee, based in the vibrant and dynamic city centre, works with regional businesses and organisations specialising in the technology and entertainment sector to demonstrate how the gaming technology can be applied to other industries within a 5G context, whilst S5GConnect Dumfries, the Centre’s first rural hub, brings together technological expertise, academic research and local businesses to accelerate the potential of 5G in transforming communities and economies throughout the south of Scotland focusing on agritech and remote healthcare sectors.

With the announcement of each hub and the expansion of the S5GConnect programme, the Centre has created a series of videos highlighting the opportunities and services provided by each hub to local businesses and the wider community.

The animation videos for S5GConnect, S5GConnect Dumfries, S5GConnect Dundee and S5GConnect Forth Valley can be found here.

Over the summer, the Centre celebrated the S5GConnect programme further with the S5GConnect Awareness events – a series of 4 events with keynote addresses from Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & the Economy, Sarah Eynon, Associate Director in the Digital Infrastructure Team at Scottish Futures Trust, Martyn Wallace, Chief Digital Officer for the Scottish Local Government Digital Office, Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive Officer of South of Scotland Enterprise and Robin Presswood, Executive Director of City Development of Dundee City Council.

The events covered a range of topics including, the benefits of 5G and how 5G will benefit rural and urban areas.

After the summer, the Scotland 5G Centre team were finally able to meet up in person; work in our physical office space in the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre and begin to attend some in-person events including participating in a number of COP-26 events.

The S5GC team attended a Scottish Government-led Digital and Climate Change Roundtable; Holyrood’s ‘How 5G can Help Tackle the Climate Emergency’ event and the University of Glasgow’s Sustainable Solutions Showcase.

Our rural hub S5GConnect Dumfries was officially opened for business in October, when the 5G testbed went live, ready to support 5G use cases on a dedicated private network. At our in-person launch event, representatives from local authorities and companies linked to the South of Scotland, including the Crichton Trust, Qubiti, University of Glasgow and Scotland Rural College came along to find out more about the 5G testbed and the connectivity opportunities that it can offer to the area.

The team also attended, exhibited at and hosted a masterclass and leadership stream session on the potential of 5G in Scotland at FutureScot’s Digital Scotland 2021 event and CEO Paul Coffey and Chair Julie Snell spoke on ‘The role of wireless technologies in delivering a gigabit-capable UK’ & ‘Delivering the right technology mix for the countryside’ panels during the Connected Britain 2021 event.

Throughout the year, S5GC has continued to expand and grow, confirming 8 new appointments to the team.

Ian Sharp joined the team as the Head of Business Development, aiming to increase the Centre’s profile and visibility in Scotland, the UK and internationally; Lara Moloney has been appointed as the Head of the S5GConnect Programme, overseeing the growth and development of the hubs; and Jackie Stevens joined the team as Finance and Business Operations Manager.

Also joining the core Centre team, Esther Francisco was appointed as Marketing and Communications Manager, responsible for developing and implementing the marketing strategy for the Centre; and Siobhan Divers and Nicola Graham joined as Marketing Assistants.

The Centre also appointed two Business Engagement Managers to the S5GConnect hubs at Dumfries and Forth Valley.

Andrew Todman heads up S5GConnect Dumfries, based at the Crichton Campus and Thomas Marchbanks heads up S5GConnect Forth Valley based at Forth Valley College’s Alloa Campus. Andy and Tom work with businesses in their local areas to encourage them to access the skills and facilities available at the Centre’s innovation hubs.

This year, our growing team have also celebrated a number of key milestones including the 2-year anniversary of the Centre, the 1-year anniversary of the S5GConnect Programme and CEO Paul Coffey’s 1-year anniversary with the centre.

During the past 12 months, as we have grown, we have massively increased the presence and profile of The Scotland 5G Centre across the UK and internationally.

Representatives from the S5GC team have attended over 40 events this year, S5GC hosting 7 events both to virtual and physical audiences; and we have published 45 articles to our site including opinion pieces from CEO Paul Coffey on how digital connectivity can empower people to restore the planet; how 5G is the key to opening a clever countryside and the part 5G technology will play in revolutionising Scotland.

The projects funded by the Centre – the rural and smart campus testbeds led by the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow respectively have also had a productive year.

The smart campus urban project, managed by our partners at the University of Glasgow, is showing a £10.9M return on investment made by the Centre, with the University’s Communication, Sensing and Imaging group developing a pioneering robot arm which can be used remotely allowing for an immersive learning experience for students across the globe and providing a blueprint to develop new commercial opportunities.

This tele-operational, 5G robotic arm uses a haptic feedback controller that allows you to feel senses of touch, motion and pressure and the setup is also being adapted for other commercial applications where extended reality can be applied – all in real time.

Our partners at the University of Strathclyde’s StrathSDR team, this year, engineered and trialled a world first stand-alone private network for sports broadcasting using shared spectrum in the 3.8 to 4.2 GHz, bringing live segments to a worldwide audience from a 5G handheld camera at the Monster Energy British Grand Prix, MotoGP at the iconic Silverstone circuit.

A 5G testbed has been installed in Orkney, to test how connectivity can work in a remote and rural environment. Already showing a £2.5M return on the investment we initially contributed with, the project is finding ways of using shared spectrum to deploy 5G to support energy management, fishing, tourism as well as next generation communications to residents to sustain and support rural communities.

Overall, 2021 has been a successful year, and we look forward to the opportunities that 2022 will bring!

Tags: projects innovation S5GConnect Reflection Anniversary blog