Swansea University is set to develop a world-first research and innovation environment that harnesses 5G infrastructure to improve population health and wellbeing, with the award of a £2.58M project that will create a “living laboratory” in the Swansea Bay City Region.
This “living lab”, will support innovation of original device development, for health, wellbeing, and sport through the development of new sensors and devices that can help improve people’s quality of life, monitor physical and mental well-being, improve performance, and reduce the burden on the NHS.
The project is also expected to attract industry, investment, and jobs to the region through the opportunity to co-locate alongside clinical infrastructure, sports and well-being facilities and academic expertise.
Supported by grant funding of more than £1.5M from the Swansea Bay City Deal Digital Infrastructure Programme, and in partnership with Swansea Bay University Health Board, Swansea University will work with Vodafone to deliver a 5G testbed spanning the University’s two campuses, Singleton and Morriston Hospitals, and parts of the city.
Professor Keith Lloyd leading the project said: “Swansea University is delighted to have the opportunity to develop this unique innovation testbed. We are grateful to the Swansea Bay City Deal Digital Infrastructure Programme for enabling us to deliver a significant resource for the region and for Wales. We are also deeply appreciative of the support that our technology partner, Vodafone, is contributing to the project and to Swansea Council and our NHS partners.
“It is our ambition that the research and innovation environment we are creating will deliver real benefits for the local community as well as for the NHS and sport.”
Vodafone is also actively working with Swansea University to tackle digital exclusion in the area through the provision of 3,000 SIM cards distributed by the University to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the local area. In addition, Vodafone will explore further opportunities for the 5G network in the region, in areas such as decarbonisation and green energy.
Nick Gliddon, UK Business Director, Vodafone said: “We are always impressed by the scale of Swansea University’s ambition and capacity to support innovation and are thrilled it will develop a “living lab” that harnesses the power of 5G. The lab offers the opportunity to experiment with next-generation technologies and bring to life ideas that could revolutionise the way we do business and deliver public services, especially in healthcare. We look forward to continuing to work with Swansea on opportunities to help them achieve their digital ambitions and deliver real benefits for the local community and industry.”
The 5G innovation project has been developed by the Swansea Bay City Deal-funded Campuses project, which builds on Swansea University’s strengths in the Institute of Life Science, Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, and SAIL Databank in partnership with the regional NHS ecosystem.
A key objective of the Campuses project is to lead the development of a globally significant sports tech industry and build on health technology and medical technology innovation in the region.
Councillor Rob Stewart, Chair of the Swansea Bay City Region Joint Committee, said “We’re delighted to be funding a project that is set to transform health, wellbeing, and sport science innovations as we currently know them. Not only will it strengthen the public sector healthcare provisions for our local community, but it will also be a valued asset for the whole of Wales.
“It’s an exciting time for digital technology and we are proud to be at the forefront of those developments. This facility will benefit from top quality digital connectivity, so I’m confident that the opportunities this will bring will firmly place the city on the map as an industry leader.
“We are committed to Swansea becoming a smart city as part of a truly digital region and this investment is a positive step closer to making that happen.”