In mid-July the DCMS 5G Programme Industrial 5G Testbeds & Trials grant funding competition opened for applications from the manufacturing and logistics sector to. Up to £10 million is available for 5G projects that can help boost productivity. Jo O’Riordan went to the competitions briefing event on a very sunny day at the Digital Catapult.
For this round of funding the government are seeking projects of a large scale in logistics and smaller scale in manufacturing. They will fund more manufacturing projects than logistics projects but with less individual funding available.
To try and learn from previous funding rounds DCMS have changed elements of the process, including stipulating that the lead company, who receives the funding allocation on behalf of the consortium, must be a business. They have also stipulated that the consortium be made up of at least two partners receiving funding and one of these is an SME.
It was emphasised throughout the briefing that even though the government have listed challenges they think the projects could help overcome in the guidance documents they are open to alternative suggestions.
Also unlike previous rounds project proposals will be made publicly available after the closing date, possibly even the unsuccessful ones.
Once the applications have been awarded the projects will have a new way of working. For this round DCMS will administer the funding, as opposed to Innovate UK, consortia will be expected to share findings and Digital Catapult (who will not bid) will offer the consortia their expertise paid for via DCMS funding, not consortia members. Apparently, this form of ‘expertise giving’ can come in many forms, including training.
It was interesting to hear the changes being made to this round of funding. You can be the judge if the changes are beneficial or not.
A video of the event, including the individual company pitches, can be found here: https://uk5g.org/discover/research/5gstt-competition-briefing-23-july-19/