The Digital Infrastructure Programme’s grant funding will heavily support what is set to be a world-first research and innovation environment that harnesses 5G infrastructure to improve health and wellbeing and will create a “living laboratory” in the Swansea Bay City Region.

Secretary Hillary Clinton applauded the landmark announcement, which took place at the Leadership for Future Generations event at Swansea University.  The partnership with Vodafone, Swansea University and Swansea Bay University Health Board, will deliver a 5G testbed spanning the University’s two campuses, Singleton and Morriston Hospitals and other parts of the city.  The “living lab” will support key device development for health, wellbeing and sport-science that will enable real-time monitoring of physical and mental well-being, helping to improve overall standards of care.

Developed by the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Campuses project, this groundbreaking research is set to lead the way with global development of sport, health and medical technology and is expected to attract further investment and jobs to the region.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chair of the Swansea Bay City Region’s Joint Committee, said: “We’re delighted to be funding a project that is set to transform health, wellbeing and sport science innovations as we currently know them.  

“Not only will it strengthen the public sector healthcare provisions for our local community, but it will also be a valued asset for the whole of Wales. 

“It’s an exciting time for digital technology and we are proud to be at the forefront of those developments.  This facility will benefit from top quality digital connectivity, so I’m confident that the opportunities this will bring will firmly place the city on the map as an industry leader.  

“We are committed to Swansea becoming a smart city as part of a truly digital region and this investment is a positive step closer to making that happen.”

Vodafone is also actively working with Swansea University to tackle digital exclusion in the area through the provision of 3,000 SIM cards distributed by the University to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the local area. In addition, Vodafone will explore further opportunities for the 5G network in the region, in areas such as decarbonisation and green energy.

The ambition of the £2.8 million project is to transform capabilities within this sector through the collaboration of private and public sector bodies along with key academic expertise.

Professor Keith Lloyd leading the project said: “Swansea University is delighted to have the opportunity to develop this unique innovation testbed. We are grateful to the Swansea Bay City Deal Digital Infrastructure Programme for enabling us to deliver a significant resource for the region and for Wales. We are also deeply appreciative of the support that our technology partner, Vodafone, is contributing to the project and to Swansea Council and our NHS partners.

“It is our ambition that the research and innovation environment we are creating will deliver real benefits for the local community as well as for the NHS and sport”.

Campuses was the first to be awarded funding through our 5G Innovation Fund, but we have other exciting projects in the pipelines across a range of key sectors including agri-tech, creative industries, energy, advanced manufacturing and more. The first round of the Digital Infrastructure Programme’s 5G Innovation Fund is currently open to all Swansea Bay City Deal projects and region public sector bodies, until March 2024.