UK to spend £100m on 6G research centres in bid for sector dominance

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The UK government has committed £100 million in funding to support research and development of 6G technologies as part of a push to position the UK at the “leading edge of future telecoms”.

The investment, set to run alongside the government’s 6G strategy, will include funding for the establishment of a series of Future Telecoms Research Hubs.

In a statement today, the government said these will provide support and funding for early-stage research into 6G technologies and will be coordinated through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

“These hubs will help to develop an intellectual property (IP) portfolio to strengthen UK companies’ global competitiveness,” the government said in a statement.

This will include provisions to support spinout companies focused on developing 6G technologies, and long-term it is hoped will attract “further industry” investment in future telecoms technology to support UK businesses and unlock economic opportunities.

Support for early-stage research will also include funding for a series of ‘challenges’ - led by Innovate UK - aimed at supporting companies to deliver innovative solutions to the market and encourage collaboration across the UK’s telecoms landscape.


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The funding opportunities for industry and researchers will be made available throughout 2023 and into 2024, the government confirmed.

“This aims to cement early UK market leadership, additionally attracting follow-on investment for companies to scale up and grow in the UK,” the government said.

Once established, the research hubs won’t be the only centres focused on the development of 6G technologies in the UK. In February, the University of Sheffield announced it will house the UK’s first national 6G research facility.

The site is set to open in January 2024 and will play a key role in supporting 6G research and development, which could have significant implications for the future of business.

Providing far greater speeds than currently available, 6G is expected to open up new avenues of academic research, particularly in the artificial intelligence and IoT spaces.

6G Strategy support

The announcement of the Future Telecoms Research Hubs forms part of what the government described as a “long-term national mission” to drive the adoption and development of 6G technologies in the UK to support the needs of businesses.

The government’s 6G Strategy, which is outlined as part of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, aims to “shape the next generation of wireless technology” and its potential applications.

‘Future telecoms’ were earmarked as one of the government’s five critical priority technologies in its goal to become a science and technology ‘superpower’ within the next decade, according to technology secretary Michelle Donelan.

“This package of measures turbocharges our progress towards becoming a science and tech superpower with a substantial initial investment in the future of telecoms,” she said.

“We want to ensure that 6G is developed to meet the needs of people and businesses right across the UK and bolster our international competitiveness throughout the economy.”

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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