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5PRING, West Midlands local authorities announce smart cities challenge

5G accelerator issues challenge to innovators in health, social and public services to help lead the 5G revolution with local authorities

As it continues its mission to advance use cases based on next-generation networks in its home region of the West Midlands in the UK, the 5PRING 5G commercial application accelerator has revealed it is now working with West Midlands local authorities to launch the Smart Cities challenge.

The organisation 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.

5PRING calculates that the forecast market for smart cities was more than £900bn in 2020, equivalent to the 12th largest nation on earth. It added that it is estimated that the top 750 Smart Cities will generate two-thirds of the world’s GDP by 2030 and that its home city of 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 5PRING smart cities challenge is designed to 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.

Applicants are being sought for 5G solutions to create what 5PRING says will be “safe, cutting-edge and successful” smart cities, with challenge areas in health and social care; public services; social and events; public safety.

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). 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 take advantage of capabilities such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT), and edge computing are strongly encouraged to apply.

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Successful applicants will have access to what 5PRING claims is 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 Telefónica UK (O2), Deloitte, Wayra and Digital Catapult. Companies will be able to take advantage of Wayra’s investor network and startup offers, a combined consortium customer network, business development with corporate firms, and including consultancy from Deloitte.

“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,” said Raj Mack, head of business engagement, information, technology and digital services at Birmingham City Council.

“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,” he said.

Robert Franks, managing director at 5PRING founding consortium member West Midlands 5G Limited (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,” he said.

Applications for the accelerator are now open at https://5pring.org/programmes/smartcities/ and should be submitted by midnight on 25 June 2021. Successful applicants will start working with 5PRING from Monday 16 August 2021. For participation in the Incubator, registration should be submitted by 18 June 2021. A series of engagement events will run throughout the 5PRING programme known as Educate, Incubate and Accelerate.

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