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

Credit: Powys Council

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 Powys, 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.

Cllr Jake Berriman, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member for a Connected Powys, said: “This is excellent news and a real boost for technology across the River Severn catchment area.

“This funding will help us as an Innovation Region to demonstrate, prove and drive adoption of new digital products and services that support public services, while helping key enterprises in water management and rural industries to explore and exploit digital innovation.”

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, RSP 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 Worcestershire 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.