5PRING – the consortium delivering the UK’s first 5G commercial application accelerators – is now working with West Midlands local authorities to launch the Smart Cities challenge.
The collaboration is laying down a new challenge for innovative start-ups and small businesses to shape the future of UK Smart Cities, through the exploration of 5G applications in the West Midlands.
A ‘Smart City’ is a city that uses technology enabled solutions across a variety of sectors to address key urban challenges. A big part of the technology is the use of an intelligent network of connected objects and machines that transmit data using 5G wireless technology.
The forecast market for ‘Smart Cities’ was more than £900bn GDP in 2020, equivalent to the 12th largest nation on earth. It is estimated that the top 750 Smart Cities will generate two-thirds of the world’s GDP by 2030. Birmingham is currently 40th out of 109 in the Smart Cities global ranking, with road congestion and health services noted as the most urgent priorities.
The Smart Cities challenge will provide start-ups and other small businesses with support in developing and scaling 5G innovations targeted at the health, social, and public sectors. This includes developing ‘Smart City’ solutions to support health and wellbeing, digital experiences, smart parking, journey planning, waste management and many more.
Organisations will be working with experts from local councils across the region including Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton, as well as Black Country Consortium, Coventry and Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). Applicant’s solutions will harness the power of 5G to create safe, cutting-edge and successful Smart Cities, with challenge areas in:
- Health and Social Care
- Public Services
- Social and Events
- Public Safety
Businesses are asked to present solution ideas to one or more of the challenge areas, including: driving efficiency of public services such as rubbish collection and road monitoring; supporting the resurgence of the high-street using digital experiences; journey planning, and improving public safety.
Organisations with 5G-enabled solutions that leverage capabilities such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and edge computing are strongly encouraged to apply.
Successful applicants will have access to cutting edge technology via a private 5G network at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park and a tailored acceleration programme, as well as coaching, mentoring and expertise provided by experts from the seven West Midlands’ local authorities’, three LEPs and the 5PRING consortium members Telefonica UK (O2), Deloitte, Wayra and Digital Catapult.
Companies will be able to take advantage of Wayra’s investor network and start-up offers, a combined consortium customer network, business development with corporate firms, and including consultancy from Deloitte.
Raj Mack, head of business engagement (Information, Technology & Digital Services) at Birmingham City Council said: “Our collaboration with 5PRING will give all of the participating local authorities in the West Midlands the opportunity to work closely with small business and start-ups to support and leverage 5G innovation.
“With this collaboration, we are looking to foster digitalisation of an array of services. 5PRING will allow us to identify and trial ground-breaking solutions in a real testbed environment, using technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and IoT systems to support the creation of Smart Cities.”
Tim Pile, Chair of Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP said: “Our investment of £1million to WM5G has enabled the Smart Cities programme to go ahead. We believe that the commercialisation of 5G offers fantastic opportunities for small businesses to scale up and for start-ups to develop their ideas.
“As a business led organisation, we are here to enable smaller companies to develop and thrive. GBSLEP works in collaboration with local government, businesses and educational leaders to target investments in areas we believe will help grow our regional economy and we are proud to be backing the UK’s first 5G commercial application accelerator.”
5PRING has been pioneered by West Midlands 5G Limited (WM5G) and supported by a consortium of Telefónica UK (O2), Deloitte, Wayra UK, and Digital Catapult.
Robert Franks, managing director at WM5G said: “The involvement of the local authorities and LEPs in our region with 5PRING’s latest innovation challenge is exactly the type of market collaboration we set-out to drive when pioneering WM5G’s vision. At WM5G, we are committed to support the region’s recovery post-Covid – smart city technology will make a genuine and measurable difference to our towns and cities and innovation will be crucial to ensure the region thrives.
We are looking forward to see some of the solutions start-ups and small businesses will bring forward and are confident that through collaboration we can help to bring a range of proofs of concept into reality in the future.”
Applications for the accelerator are now open and should be submitted here by midnight on 25 June 2021. Successful applicants will start working with 5PRING from Monday 16th August 2021. For participation in the Incubator, registration should be submitted by 18th June 2021.
A series of engagement events will run throughout the 5PRING programme known as Educate, Incubate and Accelerate. For more information, visit: https://5pring.org/
 Smart Cities Pitchbook. Gov.uk. March 2016  Smart City Index 2020. IMD.