Our voice of business this month is:

Kieran Arnold, Director of Ubiquitous Connectivity at the Satellite Applications Catapult.

Located within the innovation zone on the Westcott Venture Park is the Westcott Space Cluster, currently home to a 5G Step-Out Centre, a Business Incubation Centre, and an under-construction Innovation Centre. These centres are all run by the Satellite Applications Catapult, and part of my role as Director of Ubiquitous Connectivity at the Catapult is to manage our activities on the Westcott site.

5G is the fifth generation (thus, the “G”) of mobile wireless systems, a way for devices, both mobile and stationary, to send and receive data without being plugged into a wall in your home or at the office. Typically, a new generation is named when it denotes a significant leap in wireless mobile technologies.

The 5G Step-Out Centre (5G SOC) houses facilities and expertise in connectivity, with a specific focus on 5G but also capabilities in satellite communications and other terrestrial networks. The 5G SOC boasts the latest infrastructure and testing facilities for both 4G and 5G networks, and the team are currently developing what is planned to be the first private standalone (not reliant on an existing 4G) 5G network in the UK.

The 5G SOC is currently being used by businesses testing their innovations, as well as by the Catapult team on our own work; this includes our latest communications projects – 5G RuralDorset and MK:5G Connected Communities. In Dorset we are deploying enhanced communications in rural places such as beaches and on a large tourist and business estate to demonstrate the possibilities for improved safety, healthcare, and tourist experiences. For MK:5G we are creating a standalone 5G network in urban Milton Keynes for IoT (Internet of Things) innovations and demonstrating the importance of these networks for improved health and social care, mobility and energy.

Over the road from the 5G Centre is the Westcott Business Incubation Centre (BIC), offering tailored support and grants to growing businesses. The BIC focuses on 5G, space propulsion and autonomous systems due to the multitude of opportunities available with other organisations and testing facilities on site.

A successful BIC organisation, Extend Robotics, who have been receiving support at the BIC to develop their road safety technology, are now about to begin working in the 5G SOC to test and develop this technology further and to complete demonstration trials with local authorities on nearby roads.

The Innovation Centre, which is due to be completed this summer, will aim to build on the opportunities provided by the BIC and to offer flexible manufacturing space, offices and meeting rooms to support businesses, as well as access to networks and expertise that the Catapult and Westcott Space Cluster can offer.

As with all the Catapult’s activities, the 5G Centre, BIC and Innovation Centre have been created to deliver impact to the UK space industry by supporting the commercialisation of new ideas. If you would like to know more about any of these facilities please visit their websites (https://wbic.org.uk/ and https://5gsoc.org.uk/) or get in touch if you’d like to come and visit us!