5G Innovation in London’s Silicon Roundabout
Last year I was asked by Huawei colleagues to help steer an exciting new project: opening the 5G Experience & Innovation Centre in London. It was exciting to see that the chosen location was within a neighbourhood I was very familiar with in my previous life as a business angel investor and entrepreneur: the area in East London around Old Street and Shoreditch. Known locally as the Silicon Roundabout, it references the innovation and start-up hub in the US, where I visited many Tech City events as far back as 2007.
Silicon Roundabout did in fact turn out to be a hub of its own, combining the British secret sauce of fintech and start-up accelerators for emerging technologies. Most the big ICT companies had opened their own innovation spaces and there isn’t a night without conferences, hackathons or networking events to choose from. I was very engaged in all that myself when in 2016 when I set up the Realities Centre, an AR/VR ecosystem integrator. We ran over 18 events including very exciting and tiring weekend long hackathons and conferences, focusing on industries which would benefit the most from the use of AR & VR, like health, real estate, and education.
It was therefore exciting to be back in the area and support the setup of our 5G Experience & Innovation Centre. Usually, Huawei experience centres are built in Huawei offices, which is fine because visitors can learn about Huawei when visiting. But the 5GEIC has a very different ambition: It wants to bring 5G innovations in an open format. It was designed to go beyond the 5G hype and really show how the technologies can add value to our lives, both personally and at work. Therefore by being close to innovators, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs from other big ICT companies, it’s there to inspire as well as, through its future lab and potential to bring new commercial use cases in partnership with other companies from specific industries.
The centre has a live 5G network that fuels all the exciting demos and devices, showing what can be achieved from a consumer perspective. It then moves on to industry cases – one of my favourite ones is about how 5G chipsets are helping the video broadcasting industry to be truly mobile and still deliver 4K quality by integrating the 5G modem, encoder, and battery within one module. I had the pleasure of setting up a live demo and testing that with one of the biggest UK’s broadcasters – a very exciting experience. One thing worth noting about this 5G network is that it is indoors, using small lampsite antennas, which shows that high performance 5G can be delivered anywhere
It’s going to be an exciting next few years and there’s no doubt that the 5GEIC will evolve, from showing the latest successful 5G commercial use cases that have scaled to launching our innovation lab to bringing more partners’ 5G solutions, which are adding real value to their industry. The 5GIEC was launched last December and has since seen thousands of visitors, from operators and industry analysts to visitors from different industry programs. Stay tuned for more information coming in the next few months about the 5G Innovation Partner Program, which was announced at the 2020 Products & Solutions Launch event recently.
Read more about the 2020 launch event: Geared Up for 5G: The Latest Tech, Innovations & Use Cases
And if you’re in London, make sure the 5GEIC is on your itinerary.