Greater Brighton’s groundbreaking digital technology has received praise from government ministers for supporting the development and growth of some of the UK’s exciting technology firms.

The comments came after the launch of the 5G testbed at New England House in Brighton.

The infrastructure was funded by a £1.2 million secured by Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund.

Sam Gyimah, Science Minister, said: “From virtual to mixed reality, this new 5G testbed will provide the opportunity for bright ideas to flourish, demonstrating the potential of creative and digital sectors in Brighton and showcasing our modern Industrial Strategy in action.”

Jake Berry, Minister for Local Growth, said: “We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the UK and building a Britain fit for the future. The Coast to Capital LEP has secured over £300 million in Growth Deals – making it a hotbed for innovation. This latest £1.2 million investment in Brighton’s 5G testbed is further testament to this, and provides a great place for local enterprises to explore the business benefits of 5G technology.”

Digital Catapult, Coast to Capital LEP, Wired Sussex and the University of Brighton welcomed leaders from the region’s digital technology community to FuseBox in Brighton to unveil the UK’s latest 5G testbed and showcased some of the region’s most innovative and exciting immersive technology companies.

The 5G Brighton testbed will allow Brighton-based small businesses to benefit from state of the art 5G mobile wireless communications, and provide space to test and explore the potential new applications of 5G.

The immersive technology showcase presented the best of local virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technologies, demonstrating the breadth and depth of technological innovation and development in Brighton.

The 5G Brighton testbed will also help to meet the commitment in the government’s Industrial Strategy for the UK to be a world-leader in 5G technology.

The facility provides an environment where startups and scale-ups can access the most advanced digital technology solutions, including an Immersive Lab, enabling these businesses to grow faster.

Digital Catapult and partners encourage local companies to register to take part in using the testbed to develop their ideas.

Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, said: “The 5G Brighton testbed lets companies experiment with new applications and services which take advantage of the unique nature of 5G. This is a major step forward in the wider roll out of this advanced technology, helping take the technology out of university labs and into the market.

“5G represents more than just faster internet on the move, it’s the first mobile technology that, by design, enables free standing setup in individual locations, offers new companies the opportunity to control their own networks, and enables operators to manage computing at the edge as a new business model for the future.”

5G offers a significant opportunity for the UK in bringing together the worlds of mobile and internet, helping to increase speed and improve bandwidth.

It also presents huge opportunities for businesses and consumers, such as support for autonomous cars, better support for the application of Internet of Things in healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, and support for more interactive and new models of content creation and consumption of media.

5G will also allow mobile communications to underpin digital transformation of economic activity in the same way that it underpinned the digital transformation enabled by the roll out of 4G.

Jonathan Sharrock, of Coast to Capital

Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital said: “We are thrilled to have contributed Local Growth Funding towards the 5G Brighton project which is crucial to developing key digital sectors in Brighton and the wider region as identified in our Strategic Economic Plan ‘Gatwick 360’.

“This project enables a number of our strategic priorities to progress including innovation and improving digital network capability. We look forward to working with partners to ensure that our area is well equipped to be at the forefront of emerging technologies and uphold our reputation as a great place to live, grow and succeed.”

Sophie Dixon, Co-Founder of Mnemoscene, said: “Mnemoscene is excited to be given the opportunity to develop the use case for 5G at the testbed. There are many dynamic startups like ours in Brighton and this testbed gives us a real opportunity to innovate using this potentially groundbreaking and disruptive technology.”

Simon Campbell, Group IT Director at Ricardo, the global engineering and environment consultancy who will be amongst the first to use the 5G testbed, said: “Innovation and technology are at the heart of Ricardo’s business, so we are excited by the arrival of 5G technology in the Greater Brighton area. We look forward to engaging with the 5G testbed and continuing our collaboration with the innovative companies that Fusebox attracts and supports.”