UK-Based Innovation Hub Proves What’s Possible With 5G, AR, VR

The buzz is increasing about emerging technologies like 5G, AR and VR with a heightened curiosity about practical applications and impact particularly related to smart cities.

To get closer to answering what is possible with 5G, the Digital Innovation Hub launched at The Landing in MediaCityUK in the City of Salford on June 19. This is a focused effort of Vodafone and the event was co-sponsored by Wired Magazine. This announcement follows the launch of Digital Catapult’s Immersive Lab which focuses on Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality. Digital Catapult is the UK’s leading center for digital innovation center.

The two labs will co-exist and complement each other’s efforts to support the development of 5G and immersive technologies by attracting entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), network operators and global city leaders. The hope is that the invitation to innovate will be attractive to those who are anxious to learn how 5G, AR and VR will work in urban environments.

The Digital Innovation Hub and the Immersive Lab are located at The Landing, a digital hub for companies working in emerging technology sectors which launched in 2013.  More than 120 entrepreneurial companies locate there to test new technologies and products in shared workspace that encourages innovation and collaboration. The 5G Lab and AR/VR Labs  join other technology focused test beds such as a UX Lab and Cloud Testing Lab which is additive to the study of Smart Cities and the Internet of Things.

The Landing is located in MediaCity, a 200-acre development on the Manchester Ship Canal that boasts a concentration of media and technology companies including BBC and Ericsson as well as smaller digital businesses and the University of Salford. This kind of proximity and co-location has long been proven to be a best practice for encouraging innovation. The Landing is located in Salford, a metropolitan borough in the Greater Manchester region.

At the heart of this effort is Jon Corner, CEO of the Landing who also serves as the Chief Digital Officer for the City of Salford, UK.

At the launch event for the Digital Innovation Hub he stated,  “We are creating a place where you can be inspired. Every lamp, every tree, is now an asset in the 5G world. We have an open door policy and an invitation for you to dream.”

In these early days of pre-5G, the Digital Innovation Hub and the Immersive Lab are the first of its kind. However, now that there is a model and a blueprint, it is expected that these kinds of convening spaces that encourage innovation will proliferate.

It is exactly this kind of willingness to explore, expand and invite entrepreneurial approaches that will differentiate those communities that lead in the new digital economy. As with anything that is new, there will be lessons learned, but hopefully these early efforts will enhance entrepreneurship and provide new models for economic growth.