The software company leading a £9 million government-backed project designed to show the potential of 5G technology to revolutionise UK manufacturing has called on universities to get involved. Zeetta Networks is the lead partner on the 5G-ENCODE project, through which a 5G-powered smart factory is being built at Bristol’s National Composites Centre (NCC).

The project is part-funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and is one of the UK government’s biggest investments in 5G for manufacturing to date. Other project partners include O2 owner Telefonica, Siemens and Toshiba.

The company is using konfer, a free-to-use online tool developed by the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), to reach out to experts and innovators from UK universities and form new partnerships.

The konfer platform offers details of how to collaborate with the company, it harnesses AI-powered smart matching technology to connect businesses with relevant research and innovation partners from universities. It is designed to make it easier for businesses and universities to find each other and form meaningful and productive innovation partnerships.

“As a university spin-out, we always value collaboration with national and international universities and research institutions to develop new innovative solutions that offer strong differentiation for our product in the market,” Vassilis Seferidis, co-founder and CEO at Zeetta Networks, said. “Konfer enables us to access a much wider audience and communicate more efficiently with potential academic partners and research teams across the country and beyond. This has been especially important for projects like 5G-ENCODE that operate at the cutting-edge of technology innovation.”

5G-ENCODE aims to demonstrate how the creation of private mobile networks can unlock huge productivity, environmental and safety benefits for manufacturing businesses of all sizes by enabling them to make the most of 5G-powered technologies.

Potential uses of 5G in manufacturing range from sensors that predict when equipment needs preventative maintenance – helping to avoid failure and factory down-time – to the deployment of collaborative robotics and automated ground vehicles (AGVs) using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning computer vision systems.

5G also creates opportunities for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to support design, manufacturing and training, while automated heating systems connected to a 5G network could take 40 megatonnes of carbon out of the economy by 2035.

“In a post-Covid and post-Brexit world, the UK needs to be at the forefront of developing, exploiting and commercialising new technologies like 5G if it is to fulfil the Government’s ambition of being a global innovation hub,” Dr Joe Marshall, chief executive at NCUB, said. “We’re pleased to be supporting Zeetta Networks, which itself started life within a UK university, on this innovative and exciting project by opening the door to increased collaboration with relevant experts.”

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