West Mercia Rural 5G Test Bed – Industry Call for Life Sciences Sector Innovators

West Mercia Rural 5G Test Bed – Industry Call for Life Sciences Sector Innovators

Rural areas of England are often the poor relations of their urban neighbours when it comes to the roll out of digital infrastructure. Both superfast broadband and mobile services in rural areas still lack the coverage and quality that residents have come to expect across the majority of the population. Deployment to rural areas is often expensive, technically difficult and so commercially unattractive for network operators. At the same time local authorities (LAs) and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in rural areas are facing increasing demands for their services from an aging population at a time when their funding has been under increasing pressure. Maintaining current approaches to service delivery is not sustainable and alternative models are required.

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The West Mercia 5G Test Bed  

Operating in the rural area where the counties of Shropshire and Worcestershire meet the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) funded ‘West Mercia Rural 5G’ will explore infrastructure challenges when planning, building and operating a rural 5G network. The West Mercia 5G team want to test and evaluate 5G enabled technologies that support the delivery of health and social care in rural areas. 

Further information on the 5G Test Bed and consortium members can be found here: https://uk5g.org/discover/testbeds-and-trials/west-mercia-rural-5g/

The aim of this campaign is to identify 5G industry partners to join the West Mercia 5G consortium and work with the team to establish how 5G enabled technology can improve health and social care delivery across Shropshire and Worcestershire. 

The West Mercia 5G Test Bed will run for 12-18 months. The aim is for successful innovations to be tested on the 5G network from January 2021. 

Campaign Timetable

This campaign will run from the 2nd June 2020 to the 15th June 2020

Campaign Launched: 1200hrs Tuesday 2nd June 2020  

Closing date for submissions: 1700hrs Monday 15th June 2020

Clarification Questions from Industry partners received: By 1200hrs Monday 8th June 2020

Information session webinar for Industry Partners: 1200-1400hrs Wednesday 10th June 2020

(further information will be shared in due course)

Shortlisting of Submissions: Tuesday 16th June - Friday 19th June 2020

Notify Shortlisted partners: 1700hrs Friday 19th June 2020

Virtual Interviews for Shortlisted: Thursday 25th June 2020

Preferred Partners(s) notified: 1700hrs Tuesday 30th June 2020

The West Mercia 5G Test bed has £500k to demonstrate how innovative solutions can use the 5G network to transform health and care service delivery in rural areas. Further information on funding can be found here: 


The 5G Test Bed will focus on Ludlow in Shropshire and Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire (see supplementary information item 1.) In the coming weeks the West Mercia 5G team will share network coverage, health social care assets and population profiles for the Test bed areas. 

What we are looking for

We want to hear from you if you are an innovator / SME that has products or services that currently or could use the 5G network to transform health and social care delivery across one or more of the following health social care themes:


  • Theme 1.  Remote Monitoring of citizens (patients / service users) for Safety: Safe homes to support independent living; Person-Centred Care in Care Homes / Patient Homes driven by remote monitoring and data


  • Theme 2.  Remote Monitoring of citizens (patients / service users) for Vital Signs / Conditions: A proportion of patients who attend hospitals could be managed in their own home


  • Theme 3.  Empowering individuals and communities to live independently – Improved citizen self-management, independence, social engagement and reduce social isolation


  • Theme 4. Recognise the rapid phase of innovation and disruptive change took place during Covid-19 and make such innovations more sustainable: Video Consultation


  • Theme 5. A 21st Century ‘Health and Care Service’ to fulfil our ambition of digitally enabled care: Integrated Care record / Shared care Record

Further information on each of thematic areas outlined including key challenge questions and example innovations can be found within the supplementary information item. 2. 

Other health & social care use cases

In considering the specific rural focus for the 5G Testbed, the programme board recognised and considered that pre-existing use cases can also be found across the region and use case but were not necessarily suitable or established for rural settings. 

These may include the following:  

  • Virtual Reality
  • AI
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Connected Devices
  • Population health and Big Data

Some of these may be captured as solutions under the campaign themes 1-5 however the partnership would also consider applications under a wild card theme as identified below.

Wild Card 

Have an innovation that doesn’t align to any of the themes detailed above but have a use case / innovation that meets any of the following then please consider making a submission:   

  • Drive efficient use of available resources
  • Improves accessibility
  • Improves the coordination of care 
  • Improves the quality of care
  • Promotes independent living 
  • Reduces and / or prevents acute admissions 
  • Provides great intelligence on demand / capacity
  • Drive new understanding form the availability of new / live data feeds  

Benefits to Industry

Successful industry partners co-opted into the West Mercia 5G Test Bed consortium will benefit from: 

  • External funding to support innovation development (see Eligible Project Costs Guidance) 
  • Make a difference to the future delivery of health and social care in rural areas
  • An opportunity to accelerate your ambitions of developing products using 5G
  • Co-design solutions with strategic leads and specialist advisors
  • Gain critical evidence to validate and support use of 5G enabled products or services at scale 
  • Peer support from the consortium members in the development of products / services
  • Market exposure – regionally, nationally and internationally through involvement and publication of Test Bed findings

Technical Scope

The technical specifications for the 5G network infrastructure are summarised below:

  • Licenced Mobile Spectrum including accessible frequency shared bands at 3.5GHz, within band n78.  The network will use LTE band 1 or 3 for the anchor channel
  • One hundred outdoor end user devices to connect to the 5G network and provide WIFI and ethernet connectivity 
  • Shared mast infrastructure with 3GPP standards, software availability and appetite dependent, to network slice for other MNOs and private network applications by spectrum allocation

Our criteria 

Ideas and innovations submitted will be assessed around the following key areas: 

1. Links to the 5G rural thematic areas

2. Commercial case

3. Economic Case

4. Health and Social impact assessment 

5. Application of 5G

6. Potential to spread and scale 


Preference will be given to solutions with new, transformative capabilities, not just improvements on what we already have; i.e. things we can’t currently do using existing 3G/4G or fixed connectivity.  


We are more likely to invest time and energy in innovations that address existing strategic and clinical priorities:

  • Supporting the healthcare workforce
  • Rural health
    • Helping rurally isolated people to stay healthy
    • Delivering services to a dispersed rural population
  • Sharing Records 
    • Integrating data across different health and social care systems
    • Patients accessing and updating their own health and social care records

Maturity of solutions

We are more likely to support solutions that have already proven their effectiveness or organisations with experience of delivering innovation projects in a health and social care setting. 

Return on Investment

We will consider the health and wellbeing impact of solutions, as well as their ability to create jobs and attract investment into the region.

To submit your use case click here