5PRING launches Green Innovation Challenge

5G testbed welcomes applicants from startups based in the West Midlands and beyond to cut carbon emissions

5G application accelerator 5PRING has launched a Green Innovation Challenge to help deliver on WM2041, the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) programme to tackle climate change.

The three-month challenge will run from 4 January to 2 April 2021 and is designed to encourage small businesses looking to develop what WMCA calls cutting-edge technologies that can help reduce carbon emissions to apply and accelerate their technology. Applications are open until 13 November 2020, and successful applicants will start working with the 5G testbed in Birmingham from January 2021.

The accelerator’s private 5G test bed – which is claimed to provide access to 5G features that are not yet commercially available – is designed to help organisations develop new 5G-enabled products with the help of expert professional advice, and business and technical support from the 5PRING consortium. This includes West Midlands 5G (WM5G) and support from a consortium comprising Telefónica UK (O2), Deloitte, Wayra UK and Digital Catapult.

“Our plan for the region’s economic growth – and our plan for our recovery from the impact of the coronavirus on jobs – has always been about delivering the high-tech, well-paid ‘green’ jobs of the future,” said Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands. “That’s one of the reasons why we declared our ambitious target of WM2041 to be a zero-carbon region by 2041.

“This very exciting programme will help us achieve it and will unearth some of the innovative work being conducted to drive forward the region’s green recovery, post-pandemic, and will benefit residents in so many ways by creating cleaner air, making all homes energy-efficient and planting more trees to create a literally greener region. I look forward to 5PRING taking us closer to our zero-carbon goal, while supporting startups with innovative ideas.”

Robert Franks, managing director at WM5G, added: “In pioneering the launch of 5PRING, we have provided a platform for unprecedented technological change in our region. The West Midlands is enabling a wealth of new opportunities with 5G, and we are excited to see what the accelerator achieves through its Green Innovation Challenge, which will prove a key element in the region’s recovery.”

The Green Innovation Challenge is the first in a series of areas that will feature dedicated programmes, with initiatives for transport, manufacturing, health and social care and construction planned for 5PRING in the coming months. A series of engagement events will run throughout the 5PRING programme – known as Engage, Explore and Exploit.

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