THE Welsh Government has announced the next phase of its £100 million Tech Valleys programme which will see business growth in Blaenau Gwent and the surrounding areas being driven further by a mixture of 5G technology, a new campus for cyber testing and innovative new business accommodation
Through a new 5G Wales Unlocked project, the Welsh Government is bringing 5G mobile connectivity to support pilots across education, transport, tourism and farming in Blaenau Gwent and neighbouring Monmouthshire.
The Welsh Government has also confirmed it is working with Thales UK Ltd on ResilientWorks, a £7m project in Blaenau Gwent to establish a campus for testing cybersecurity for connected and autonomous vehicles and energy infrastructure. The new campus will include research laboratories, a test track and a model street complex that start-ups, SMEs, international companies and Governments can all use to test and build trust in vital new technology.
In addition, the Welsh Government and Blaenau Gwent Council are working together to deliver new accommodation for businesses in the area. This includes a new project The Box, supported by the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme, which will see a new hub of flexible office premises custom-designed and transformed from shipping containers on the former Works site in Ebbw Vale.
Together the interventions are working to create a new and exciting technology cluster centred on Ebbw Vale and a place where high-tech businesses can establish, invest and flourish.
Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Economy & Transport said:
“Through Tech Valleys the Welsh Government is committed to expanding the base of technology-driven organisations and supporting all businesses to innovate. It creates an environment that lets the world know we are open for business and that we are a destination of choice for some exceptional, innovative companies and projects.
“The announcement of 5G Wales Unlocked combined with new innovative accommodation for business via The Box and an exciting partnership with Thales on cyber testing for autonomous vehicles is helping to create the perfect environment in Blaenau Gwent for innovation, collaboration, and long term economic prosperity. ”
Working with communities across Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire, a 5G network will be deployed to help transform rural businesses, public services and infrastructure. By building the case for rural 5G connectivity, Tech Valleys will be helping to digitise businesses, stimulate new jobs and improve public services for communities across rural and semi-rural Wales.
This exciting project is led by the Welsh Government in association with the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbeds & Trials programme: Rural Connected Communities. It brings together an impressive consortium of partners, including Cisco, BT, Utterberry, Appway, Cardiff University, Monmouthshire CC and Blaenau Gwent Local Authority. Together, they will demonstrate the commercial value of improved connectivity in rural Wales, accelerating the deployment of 5G and digital services across the region.
Peter Shearman, Head of Innovation Labs, UKI at Cisco, said:
“We believe in building an inclusive future for everyone, and for us, a large part of that comes from the opportunity provided by the connectivity for individuals and communities – whether in cities or rural areas. 5G Wales Unlocked brings together partners and government bodies across the UK to help tackle the digital divide and provide the resources necessary to trial new ways of closing it, including 5G. 5G infrastructure has the potential to help connect business-critical services and devices, and the project aims to help build the commercial case for increased investment to make this a reality for rural communities.”
As part of the Tech Valleys programme of investment, businesses locating in the area can access office space for entrepreneurs, innovators and companies to co-locate with like-minded professionals focused on growth. This offer is being supplemented by Blaenau Gwent’s exciting new project The Box, which will provide businesses with even greater access to office space, co-working facilities and meeting rooms. The high spec accommodation will make innovative use of shipping containers and has been supported by nearly £500,000 from the Welsh Governments Transforming Towns programme.