Green Innovation Challenge launched to cut carbon emissions

A Green Innovation Challenge has been launched to help deliver on WM2041, the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) ambitious programme to tackle climate change.

5PRING – the UK’s first 5G application accelerator – has launched the competition to help small businesses accelerate the development of cutting edge technologies that reduce carbon emissions.

Applications are open until November 13, and successful businesses will start working with 5PRING in Birmingham from January 2021.

The accelerator’s private 5G test bed – which provides access to 5G features that aren’t yet commercially available – will help organisations to develop new 5G-enabled products and solutions with the help of expert professional advice, and business and technical support from the 5PRING consortium.

5PRING has been pioneered by West Midlands 5G Limited (WM5G) and supported by a consortium of Telefónica UK (O2), Deloitte, Wayra UK, and Digital Catapult. The three-month Green Innovation Challenge will run from 4 January 2021 to 2 April 2021.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our plan for the region’s economic growth – and our plan for our recovery from the impact of the Coronavirus on jobs – has always been about delivering the high-tech, well-paid ‘green’ jobs of the future. That’s one of the reasons why we declared our ambitious target #WM2041 to be a zero-carbon region by 2041.

“This very exciting programme will help us achieve it and will unearth some of the innovative work being conducted to drive forward the region’s green recovery, post-pandemic and will benefit residents in so many ways by creating cleaner air, making all homes energy efficient and planting more trees to create a literally greener region.

“I look forward to 5PRING taking us closer to our zero-carbon goal, while supporting start-ups with innovative ideas.”

Robert Franks, Managing Director at WM5G, added: “In pioneering the launch of 5PRING, we have provided a platform for unprecedented technological change in our region. The West Midlands is enabling a wealth of new opportunities with 5G, and we’re excited to see what the accelerator achieves through its Green Innovation Challenge, which will prove a key element in the region’s recovery.”

Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer at O2, added: “As we look to support efforts to rebuild Britain using our connectivity, we are building a greener, more sustainable network to help the UK achieve its carbon targets. At O2, we have a goal to be Net Zero by 2025 and are therefore delighted to support 5PRING’s innovation challenge to help us demonstrate the exciting potential of 5G in driving to a lower carbon future.” 

David Green, Partner at Deloitte, added: “The Green Innovation Challenge will allow us to work together as an industry to discover the exciting new opportunities for 5G to accelerate the development of technologies that will cut carbon emissions. Not only will this result in a positive environmental impact it will also contribute significantly to the UK economy, benefiting communities, businesses and wider society.”

Bruno Moraes, Country Manager at Wayra UK, added: “Launching this challenge will allow the West Midlands to lead the way for green transformation in the UK. 5G has the potential to create significant environmental impact and drive a green revolution. New business models will become possible for smart cities, mobility, heating and cooling, energy and water usage, amongst others. When combined, this can simultaneously deliver significant economic and environmental impact.”

Jeremy Silver, CEO at Digital Catapult, added: "The planet demands us to adapt to a lower carbon economy and we believe moving to digital solutions will accelerate that shift. 5G has a huge role to play in this, but to deliver it will take new kinds of collaborations between large organisations and innovative start-ups with bright new ideas. As the technical authority on this project, we're excited to bring this challenge to innovative start-ups.”

The Green Innovation Challenge is the first in a series of areas that will feature dedicated programmes. Initiatives for transport, manufacturing, health and social care and construction are planned for 5PRING in the coming months.

5PRING launched in Birmingham earlier in 2020, with a physical facility planned to open in 2021. Two further facilities in Coventry and Wolverhampton are set to follow and will provide private and public sector organisations with the opportunity to access 5G technology first-hand to develop new applications and services for the West Midlands.

A series of engagement events will run throughout the 5PRING programme – known as Engage, Explore and Exploit. For more information, visit: or follow @5PRING_WM on Twitter and 5PRING on LinkedIn.