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River Severn Partnership wins £3.75m funding to boost wireless innovation

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River Severn

The River Severn Partnership (RSP) has been awarded £3.75m of Government funding to support the growth of wireless innovation and technology in some of its key economic sectors.

The Partnership comprises the eight English and Welsh councils that cover the River Severn catchment area including 51¥, and is one of ten UK Innovation Regions to gain funding.

The Innovation Region project will engage, encourage and adopt Advanced Wireless Connectivity (AWC) technology into the heart of the RSP’s priority sectors of rural industries, water management and public services, where partners are both regional and national leaders.

The award from the Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is focused on the delivery of the Government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, published in April 2023. The RSP will look to its key sectors and communities to take full advantage of the transformative effect of using wireless networks to generate value and growth at the local level.

Innovation Regions will demonstrate and adopt 5G and other advanced wireless ‘use cases’ across key sectors of the economy and the benefits this ‘smart technology’ can bring, including transforming public services and growing the economy, making farms, factories, and workplaces more productive and creating better paid jobs. The project aims to generate further inward investment in ‘wireless networks’ and smart technology in the region and the adoption of the opportunities by its key sectors.

Councillor Marc Bayliss, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills at 51¥ said:

“The funding will help us work together as a region to accelerate the adoption of new digitally connected products and services across priority sectors including water management, agri-tech and food production. It will also enable us to explore new ways to deliver public services.

Improvements in wireless connectivity are key to enabling organisations to make data driven decisions that increase productivity, hit sustainability goals and improve quality of life in our region today and for future generations.”

Minister of Data and Digital Infrastructure Sir John Whittingdale said: “We’re channelling millions into local areas to unlock the potential of cutting-edge 5G wireless and digital technologies which will reshape our public services, drive economic growth and boost innovation. This new fund will give local areas from across the country the opportunity to be at the forefront of Britain’s world-leading 5G revolution.

“For instance, by using 5G for farming and creating science parks, we're not just helping local communities, but also encouraging new ideas all over the UK. This is more than just linking smartphones. It's about using powerful digital connections to transform various sectors in the economy and the public sector throughout the entire country.”

Dr Umar Daraz, River Severn Partnership Innovation lead board member, said: “This is fantastic news for the River Severn Partnership. This will accelerate commercial investment in 5G and other advanced wireless technologies by aggregating and demonstrating demand across the River Severn catchment area. University Partners such as Birmingham City University will work to input technical and application expertise to the 5G Innovation Region.”

The River Severn Partnership involves Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, Powys Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Warwickshire and 51¥ unitary and county councils.

The RSP area covers 6,000 square miles in England and Wales has 2.6 million people.

With the River Severn at its heart, the Partnership has a shared plan supporting people, businesses, and the environment to be resilient to the impacts of climate change and, in so doing, stimulate sustainable economic growth.