Members of the business and tech communities across the Greater Manchester region came together recently for the official launch of the new cutting-edge Vodafone edge technology lab and showroom at HOST in MediaCity, Salford.
The lab is the first of its kind in the UK and is designed to help support the development of Manchester, and the surrounding region, into a Northern digital powerhouse.
It offers the opportunity for companies, academics, software developers and public sector organisations to see and test the possibilities of the next generation in cloud technology – Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC). When deployed in combination with 5G, developers can create applications that react faster than the human brain. These capabilities could give rise to new technology use cases such as autonomous vehicles, near-real time fraud detection and augmented/virtual reality mobile experiences.
Software developers and innovators in the Greater Manchester region will have access to these technologies in the earliest stages of development. This head start will create a global centre of excellence for real-time mobile applications in the region, supporting the growth of digitally led businesses and industries in the area, as well as in the rest of the UK.
Attendees at the event were treated to a panel discussion, followed by the opportunity to see the lab for themselves and demo some of the new MEC technology on display.
Demonstrations at the lab included an augmented reality experience from Tactile and Vodafone, where digital instructions and information is overlaid on the physical world through a virtual reality headset. This allows engineers to access valuable information when repairing physical assets, as well as the opportunity for more experience engineers to dial in to support activities and provide visual instruction in real time without lag.
Paul Dennett, City Mayor of Salford, said: “It’s fantastic to see a facility like this opening in Salford. It’s already a thriving centre for new technology and entrepreneurship and having access to the facilities at the lab will make a massive difference to local businesses and organisations across a variety of industries.”
Maria Grazia Pecorari, Strategy and Wholesale Director at Vodafone, said: “For digital to have the biggest impact on our lives, we need to put the technology in the hands of the people who will use it every day. That is the exact purpose of this lab. This is exciting for us, as it’s the first of its kind in the UK, and it’s got the potential to bring a huge amount of opportunity to the wider North West as well as Salford and Manchester.”
Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group, the operator of HOST, said: “We’re really pleased to see the vision for this lab realised, and to have been able to share it with the business and tech communities across the region. It’s now available for them to use to really test out the possibilities of the next generation of technology, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.”
The panel featured Jenn Didoni (Head of Cloud Business, Vodafone), Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group, the operator of HOST (The Home of Skills & Technology) and Councillor Eamonn O’Brien (Lead for Education, Skills, Work, Apprenticeships & Digital at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority) alongside Tilly Gilbert (Principal Consultant & Edge Practice Lead, STL Partners).
They discussed the new opportunity for Manchester to create a global centre of excellence for next-generation technologies, to drive new economic value and opportunity for companies and communities in the Greater Manchester area.