Scotland’s first rural 5G hub to be based at Dumfries campus

A business and academic campus in Dumfries is set to host Scotland’s first rural 5G connectivity hub.

The S5GConnect Dumfries hub, based at The Crichton, has been described as bringing together technological expertise, academic research and local businesses to accelerate the potential of 5G to ‘transform’ communities and economies in the south of Scotland.

The hub, part of the S5GConnect programme, is being equipped with a dedicated 5G network with capabilities including a testbed that will enable SMEs to test products, services and solutions. Some of the projects set to get underway include the development of agritech solutions, where sensors and drones are used to measure crop growth, animal behaviour and wellness; and remote healthcare initiatives including the use of 5G technology to support assisted living.

This will mark the third S5GConnect hub, following the establishment of facilities in Forth Valley and Dundee. Created by the Scotland 5G Centre, the S5GConnect programme has been tipped as a ‘catalyst’ to increase awareness of 5G. A dedicated team has been recruited for the hub at The Crichton to work with local partners and businesses.

Paul Coffey, CEO of The Scotland 5G Centre, said, “Our S5GConnect programme will equip businesses and entrepreneurs across Dumfries & Galloway with the skills they need to understand how 5G can benefit their business. It is planned over three levels – kicking off with raising awareness of the scope of 5G; followed by more detailed evaluation of the business possibilities; culminating in months of in-depth support to scale up and test using our dedicated 5G private network.”

The Crichton, an 85-acre parkland estate, is home to over 90 organisations including five academic partners. The S5GConnect hub at The Crichton is being supported by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE).

Gwilym Gibbons, chief executive of charity and social enterprise, The Crichton Trust said, “This is a hugely exciting project which will have a significant impact on the south of Scotland. We believe that 5G connectivity will enable our rural communities to experience the power of fast connectivity and the opportunities this brings for innovation and the future economy, helping to generate the solutions and services we require to meet the challenges of our ageing society, the climate crisis and the fourth industrial revolution. Solutions that start in Dumfries but can scale and be replicated into our neighbouring rural and urban areas and exported across the world.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, South of Scotland Enterprise’s chief executive, added, “I am delighted that Scotland’s first rural 5G Hub will be in the south of Scotland, and that our organisation is a key partner in this landmark project. While our focus in our first year was to support our region to respond and recover from Covid-19, this significant announcement highlights our commitment to now looking to the future.

“With digital connectivity an issue in a number of areas of the South of Scotland, the 5G Hub will bring together industry, academia and government bodies on a series of projects to explore opportunities which offer considerable benefits to local businesses and communities, including net zero manufacturing, farming and agriculture and sustainable and connected housing. I look forward to working with our partners to help the South of Scotland lead the way in this transformational technology.”