Vodafone 5G digital hub gives startups innovation space in MediaCityUK

© Vodafone

Vodafone has officially opened its Digital Innovation Hub at the MediaCityUK, Salford, following the roll-out of its 5G network in the UK.

The hub, which is located in the Landing workspace, aims to give the UK’s startup community easy access when developing new 5G applications and services.

There are currently over 100 startups located in the MediaCityUK. Vodafone’s Digital Innovation Hub will provide them with the latest technologies, including 5G, IoT and high-speed fibre.

The Landing, which was launched in the centre of MediaCityUK in 2013, also offers an open workspace for startups to share ideas.

“With Vodafone coming on board, we’ve taken that notion of having labs and testing spaces here,” Jon Corner, CEO at The Landing tells Computerworld UK. “We’ve taken that to another level and Vodafone has invested in a 5G innovation lab across one of our floors.

“What’s exciting about this 5G innovation space is for the first time we’re able to connect to the fourth stage of MediaCity. So we’re taking that notion of a lab and testing space and actually extending it into a full urban environment, so in principle, the whole MediaCity becomes a living lab for SMEs and companies with innovation and products to be able to demonstrate and showcase,” he adds.

In partnership with The Landing, Vodafone’s network is distributed across MediaCityUK and the new 5G hub will help boost more areas of innovation whilst also enabling startups to explore new projects and technologies.

“We’ve got our own tech community and we’re very well connected in Greater Manchester with over 70 businesses in the building,” Corner explains. “We’re also connected to 200 more businesses across Manchester within our associate group, so opening a place like this to them, I think is particularly exciting.”

Manchester is amongst the seven cities where Vodafone switched on its 5G network earlier this month. The network provider has now also made 5G live in an additional eight cities, including Birkenhead and Gatwick.

“So, we’ve become a kind of magnet for a much broader supply chain to focus on urban innovation around 5G,” he adds.

Read next: Vodafone UK 'rips up industry rulebook’ as it switches on 5G in seven UK cities

Use case

“We’ve got some fantastic small companies in the building working on augmented reality applications and virtual reality applications, and we’ve also recently partnered with Digital Catapult,” Corner tells us.

The partnership, which was announced in May 2019, brings about the launch of Digital Catapult immersive labs in the Landing. This also includes a VR and AR centre located next to Vodafone’s 5G hub.

“I think it’s interesting that those two things are co-located because I think it provides opportunities around immersive content in VR, and I think that’s going to be a really powerful area and we’ve got some companies who are already innovating in that space,” Corner adds.

According to Corner, the Landing is open to local and international startups with ideas to develop a smart and connected city within the UK.

“The exciting next step for us is how we unlock the whole footprint of mini urban environments and turn it into a genuine UK 5G showcase for facilities to come and see how to manage city assets,” Corner says.

“So, we’re not in the business of deploying 5G but in the business of how to understand it, how you innovate with it and we will give you a plug and play environment to innovate for it now, whilst ensuring that small companies get opportunities to speak to telecoms experts.”

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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