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Start-ups pioneer low carbon innovation with UK’s first commercial 5G accelerator

The Business Magazine article image for: Start-ups pioneer low carbon innovation with UK’s first commercial 5G accelerator
18 February 2021

Ten start-ups are working with the UK's first 5G commercial application accelerator, 5PRING, utility company Suez and the West Midlands Combined Authority to pioneer green innovations using 5G. Innovations include transforming home deliveries, reducing pollution through better traffic management, high-tech recycling. These green innovations could help the West Midlands reach our target to be net zero for carbon emissions by 2041.

Driven by the WMCA’s WM2041 programme, a programme for implementing an environmental recovery, the West Midlands region sees 5PRING’s Green Innovation Challenge helping to lead England’s low carbon transformation.

5PRING’s cohort of successful applicants now have access to technology and a private 5G network. This is supplemented by coaching, mentoring and expertise from a range of experts at the multi-national organisations which comprise the 5PRING consortium.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The Green Innovation Challenge is a key component of the region’s carbon neutrality ambitions and the WM2041 Five Year Plan. As part of our journey to carbon neutrality, it is absolutely critical we bring the region’s businesses with us, as they have a key role to play in both helping to reduce emissions and creating high-skilled, well-paid, jobs. The 5PRING programme – supported by West Midlands 5G – does exactly that and I am excited to see what our ten start-ups produce.”

The successful applicants who make up the cohort of start-ups are:

A Birmingham-based remote monitoring service that can easily integrate with machines; currently Osmium is monitoring and maintaining 12 wind turbines with this service. The aim is to roll-out large numbers of low-cost 5G-enabled monitoring stations so that machinery can be more efficiently monitored, driving productivity in other areas. Only 5G provides the speed, ubiquity, cost and longevity to achieve this.

KC Technology
A smart traffic control system that includes smart radar-based traffic detection to monitor vehicle and pedestrian flow. 5G’s ability to transfer data in real-time enables big data traffic control modelling, allowing traffic lights to change on demand, meaning congestion can be resolved more efficiently, reducing pollution levels in the process.

A platform that opens the door for people to invest in green real estate developments. All builds are carbon zero, energy positive, and A+ EPC rated. By implementing 5G into its sustainable housing, CurveBlock will be able to gather real-time data that will support its ability to gain insights to enable users to reduce energy consumption.

A smart lamp post powered by wind and solar that transforms a regular street light into sustainable smart infrastructure. With this 5G solution, cities can transform a simple street light into a carbon neutral object that can be used for multiple IoT purposes in a single infrastructure – without the need for creating new ones.

Electric Zoo
A Birmingham-based business offering a seamless solution to help travellers go electric the easy way. Smart technology utilising 5G analyses journey data, the supply of electric vehicles and charging points, enabling an online platform to deliver an electric vehicle on a short-term rental to your door. If successful, this will decarbonise the transport network through the adoption of more sustainable forms of travel.
A platform that optimises the delivery of people, packages and things, providing a bespoke solution at scale for clients through the use of custom maps and vehicle profiles. 5G enables a better customer experience due to the ability to process high volumes of data and greater bandwidth, allowing a real-time proficiency.

An advanced tracking solution from Leamington Spa that provides valuable insight towards a customer’s business operations, improving operational efficiencies. 5G’s increased capacity will help to unleash an ecosystem of connected devices with improvements in latency, speed and energy consumption. This will reduce the energy, time and effort spent tracking and monitoring mission critical assets.

A B2B technology platform based in Oxford for retailers to make fit and style more accessible to more people, leveraging computer vision and deep learning. Aistetic’s solution reduces online returns and increases conversion for retailers whilst improving the experience for consumers through a 3D avatar enabling them to try on clothes virtually. 5G will enhance the delivery of this solution, lowering latency and increasing processing speeds.

Westfield Technology
The world’s first pure electric AI autonomous road sweeper that has a secondary job of conglomerating deliveries to houses, universities, places of work, hospitals, shopping centres and more. The Dudley-based vehicle uses face recognition and QR codes to access on-board lockers. 5G will enhance the remote stewarding technology, providing live asset/road/path monitoring, faster AI data set learning, faster stream related insurance data, and provide data on the road sweep and vehicle control systems.

AI-powered computer vision software that could increase transparency and automation in recycling. 5G enables the real-time transfer of information on waste flows that can be used to optimise recycling plant performance. This real-time, visual information on waste flows allows for a more efficient plant and more optimised market for secondary materials, crucial for the circular economy.

These organisations are at the outset of a three-month long tailored programme where they will experiment with their specific 5G use cases to develop proof of concepts and importantly a scaling plan to drive real-world 5G opportunities.

5PRING was pioneered by West Midlands 5G (WM5G) Limited, which is a multi-million-pound programme that both the WMCA and DCMS set-up to develop the UK’s first region-wide 5G testbed. DCMS expects to invest over £20m in this programme, in addition to substantial West Midlands public sector and private investment (October 2018 to March 2022).

Robert Franks, Managing Director at WM5G, added: “We’re pleased that the Green Innovation Challenge response was oversubscribed, and we are working with eleven of the brightest start-ups to drive forward 5G innovation. We’re fully aligned to the WMCA’s vision for a greener future and look forward to seeing these businesses continue to develop, prove and scale their respective applications and services. It’s an incredible time to be investing in 5G and we’re proud that the West Midlands is leading the way in terms of 5G innovation.”

A series of engagement events for businesses outside of the Green Innovation Challenge are running throughout the 5PRING programme, known as Engage, Explore and Exploit. For more information or to get involved, visit:


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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