The Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has announced the ten successful 5G Innovation Regions (5GIR), successfully granted a portion of over £36 million across the UK.

The seven North East local authorities (LA7) are to receive over £3.7million to support 5G and advanced wireless connectivity projects across the region.

The announcement comes just as the seven local authorities have agreed to form a new Mayoral Combined Authority next year. This successful bid shows the region working effectively together to leverage funding to boost the local economy.

Sunderland City Council is leading these innovative funded projects with LA7 partners, plus the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Newcastle University, PROTO, Digital Catapult and Space North East.

Sectors set to benefit from this funding include transport and logistics, creative industries and agritech across rural industries. The innovative projects encompass a diverse range of applications, each contributing to the region’s digital evolution:

  • 5G-Enabled Smart Port Operations: This project will involve 5G cameras and IoT sensors to inspect the port estate, boosting efficiency and reducing fuel usage, enabling ports to drive forward plans to become all-electric and reduce environmental impact, whilst enhancing competitiveness and improving safety.
  • Connected Intelligent Transport System (CITS): With a focus on improving road transport efficiency within cities and between strategically vital industrial locations, such as Nissan and the Port of Tyne, this project is set to redefine regional transportation dynamics.
  • 5G-Enabled Event Production and 360º Live Broadcasting: To showcase the potential of 5G to enable live broadcast of high bandwidth 360º video content to a range of novel display surfaces. Building on the region’s flourishing creative sector, this will create an incredible resource for artists, creatives and digital pioneers to engage the public in ground-breaking new ways.
  • Advanced Wireless Sensor Technology on Farms: Embracing advanced wireless sensors, this initiative aims to revolutionise farming practices. Empowering farmers with real data collected from on-farm crops, soil, livestock and environmental sensors, it seeks to drive automation, boost efficiency and enhance environmental sustainability. This project will be a testbed for innovation companies to pilot technologies within a farm environment to accelerate the new developments to meet a national requirement to develop a sustainable, productive and greener agricultural sector.

Patrick Melia, chief executive at Sunderland City Council, said: “At the forefront of our strategic collaboration is steadfast support for 5G and advanced wireless connectivity, identified as pivotal components in shaping the region’s digital landscape.

“Connectivity is the catalyst for a sustainable and thriving future. 5G is already setting a precedent in transforming our public services and underpinning economic growth, as well as bringing social value across our communities.”

Collectively, these projects will contribute to establishing the North East as a national centre of excellence for terrestrial and non-terrestrial 5G use-case development and adoption, accelerating the economic, social and wellbeing impact of advanced digital connectivity through rapid adoption and scale-up across key sectors.

Patrick added: “The impact really becomes tangible when we can leverage the power of technology to make our factories and workplaces more productive, and create more and better-paid jobs. This is exactly what we are setting out to prove with the 5GIR programme funding, whilst showcasing some of our region’s leading industries on a national stage.”

The North East is already a nationally recognised hot spot for digital growth, a strategic node in international connectivity, bridging the region and the UK to Europe and the USA. The North East has also successfully deployed private 5G networks and has expertise in designing and deploying 5G solutions, which can be seen in Sunderland with 5G Connected Autonomous Logistics (5GCAL) at Nissan and the 5G Sunderland Autonomous Mobility Service (SAMS) solution being developed in Sunderland city centre.

This latest round of funding will provide a platform for the development of new solutions, with regions across the UK learning from the pioneering work happening in the North East. Widespread adoption of advanced 5G by industrial sectors, including manufacturing and logistics, and by public services, will realise significant economic benefits.

The 5GIR programme aims to drive innovative applications powered by 5G from proof of concept to widespread adoption to demonstrate 5G, and other advanced wireless use cases, across key sectors of the economy.

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.”

For more information as the funded projects roll out, see

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