Queen’s digital testbed to offer 5G benefits to industry

A new £500,000 digital testbed is being built at Queen’s University to help develop new technologies and grow market opportunities for businesses.

digital testbed
(l-r) Paul Murnaghan, Regional Director for BT’s enterprise business in Northern Ireland; Colm Higgins, Head of Queen’s University’s Northern Ireland Technology Centre and Rob Shuter, CEO of BT Enterprise (Image: Queen’s University Belfast)

A collaboration between Queen’s, BT and Cisco, the project is part of a co-investment to create a 5G enabled digital factory.

The testbed, based at Queen’s University Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC), will allow local manufacturers to collaborate and explore the benefits of 5G connectivity, helping them to become more efficient, productive, less wasteful and able to compete globally.

In a statement, head of the NITC Colm Higgins said: “As the manufacturing sector moves towards digital technologies and supporting Industry 4.0, digital testing is vital in helping to improve performance and quality of production. 5G technology offers higher speeds, greater capacity and shorter response times to the digital environment.

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“This £500,000 investment by BT, Cisco and Queen’s is an important collaboration of academia and business and will help us to deliver our mission of driving innovation and creating solutions from R&D. This will in turn help to grow market opportunities and create a step change in smart manufacturing.”

The facility will also give Queen’s researchers an opportunity to translate research into industry in areas including digital twin, cyber security, digitised manufacturing, sensors and other Industry 4.0 activities.

The project will build on existing research in smart factory technology, which has been taking place through the University’s iAMS (intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems) Pioneering Research Programme and Project SCENIC, which is supported by Invest Northern Ireland’s Research & Development programme.

Paul Murnaghan, Regional Director for BT’s enterprise business in Northern Ireland, said: “By working together alongside local manufacturing businesses, we hope that the Industry 4.0 manufacturing testbed at the NITC will identify, test and prove real business benefits for the sector with the creation of new smart and automated technologies as we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”