Rural Britain needs a new spectrum model to drive modernisation of the rural economy

5G RuralFirst is the UK’s most ambitious testbed for connectivity in rural areas, demonstrating 5G’s gamechanging potential and identifying practical use cases that will benefit businesses and communities right across the United Kingdom. Through its three testbeds in the Orkney Islands, Somerset, and Shropshire, 5G RuralFirst is identifying and exploring new business models and use cases for connectivity deployment in rural areas and showcasing the potential of 5G in rural environments.


A recent whitepaper focuses specifically on the spectrum problem to be solved for high capacity rural 5G networks at 3.6 GHz and represents the views of the individual authors on the spectrum lessons that have emerged from the 5G RuralFirst project.

The importance of the 5G pioneer band 3.4-3.8 GHz to the rural community is examined in some detail. The case is made as to why a traditional approach to the release of 5G spectrum will leave rural Britain out in the cold in terms of the transformative benefits of 5G. Some alternative options are looked at and the conclusion is reached that the ‘market expansion model’ set out in the Government’s Future Telecommunications Infrastructure Report is the best option. Some use cases are presented that show opportunistic dynamic spectrum access offers more than enough bandwidth to meet the rural use cases but a small amount of anchor spectrum, to be lightly licenses on a first come first served basis, is essential to create viable investment conditions for the market expansion model.

The paper shows why an amount as little as 20 MHz is sufficient when coupled with opportunistic dynamic spectrum access rights. Such an amount is 5% of the 5G pioneer band at 3.6 GHz and would be a sound national investment likely to offer a good return from a more productive rural economy.

Download the full whitepaper >>

About 5G RuralFirst

The consortium comprises world-leading expertise from 29 partners from across the technology, broadcasting, academic, agricultural and public sectors, including Cisco, the University of Strathclyde, the BBC, the Agri-EPI Centre, Orkney Islands Council and Scottish Futures Trust. For more information, please visit

Upskill pig industry with the AHDB Developing Pig Expertise Programme

AHDB is currently seeking participants to join the pilot Developing Pig Expertise (DPE) Programme. The DPE Programme is a series of practical workshops during which individuals working in the pig industry can share knowledge and experience to build an increased understanding of how value is created along the supply chain. We invite our members to look into the details of the DPE Programme and submit expressions of interest. Further information about AHDB Pork can be found on the website.

Open grant funding competition: round 3

Competition opens: 24 September
Competition closes: 14 November at 12:00
Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in the best cutting-edge or disruptive ideas with a view to commercialisation. All proposals must be business focused, rather than pure research. Applications can come from any area of technology, science or engineering, including arts, design, media or creative industries, and be applied to any part of the economy.

Agri-tech Catalyst Round 7: Agriculture and Food Systems Innovation

Registration closes: 21 November 2018
Competition closes: 28 November 2018
UK businesses and research organisations can apply for a share of up to £3 million from the Department for International Development (DFID) for early-stage feasibility studies, mid stage industrial research and late-stage experimental development projects with partners in eligible African countries.

ISCF Transforming Food Production

20 August | Registration opens
24 October | Registration closes

The deadline for the first funding call of this new scheme is October 24. With £20m of funding available, the call focuses purely on crops and ruminants. The full scope and eligibility details can be found here.

The Knowledge Transfer Network hosted an event and webinar to provide more information on the call, which can be found here. After reading the guidelines and watching the webinar, please get in touch if you have a project idea that we can help you with. Areas we can provide support on include:

  • Access to our facilities and equipment, including our state-of-the-art glasshouse at Cranfield University, the fully automated dairy in Somerset, or the dairy and engineering facilities at Harper Adams University. We have also a broad range of cutting edge equipment available for use in projects, for example high quality satellite imagery data; Precise MS/portable MS systems; wideband and miniature hyperspectral systems (and UAVs); fluorometers, aquaculture test facilities and integrated soil monitoring and precision crop phenotyping
  • Access to our network of 30 ‘satellite’ commercial farms, which could be an ideal platform for you to test and develop technology in a commercial environment
  • Project management– we have extensive experience of managing Innovate UK-funded projects. Outsourcing the project management and administrative elements of a project to us means that you have more time to devote to project activity.
  • Undertaking demonstration or dissemination activity – we have also undertaken this role successfully in Innovate UK projects, and are able to leverage our extensive membership network to disseminate and demonstrate technology
  • Partnering – we would be happy to broker introductions between members of the network if you are looking for partners with particular skills.

We have a flexible approach, ranging from being a partner in a project to being involved as a subcontractor. To discuss opportunities, please contact Katharine Cotter via

Innovation loans: September 2018 open competition

17 September | Competition opens
21 November at 12:00 | Competition closes

Innovate UK is to offer up to £10 million in loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for highly innovative late stage projects with the best game changing and/or disruptive ideas or concepts. There should be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact. Your proposal can come from any technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries) and any part of the economy.

Find out more


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