The University of Alberta and Telus are teaming up over the next five years to create a 5G “Living Lab” with the aim to invest in new research and technology with commercial applications, beginning with precision agriculture and autonomous vehicle systems.
Telus will invest $15 million in the project to provide the 5G technology required to boost the U of A's "innovation and commercialization capacity."
“This investment in 5G advanced infrastructure will not only stimulate economic growth, diversification and innovation in Canada, but it will transform the Alberta ecosystem for technology and innovation,” said U of A president Bill Flanagan. “This is the sort of diversification opportunity that provincial, education and business leaders are pushing for in order to position Alberta to compete globally.
“It reinforces Telus’ remarkable reputation as a technology company driving emerging opportunities.”
Telus initially pitched the idea of bringing a living lab to Edmonton in 2019, which at the time was focused on testing surveillance and algorithm technology. It has also piloted this type of project in Vancouver.
The university already has an Autonomous Vehicle Testbed, and as the U of A's Folio explains, when it comes to precision agriculture, "the disruptive technologies enhanced by 5G will ... enable researchers to address global problems in agriculture and food systems, such as increasing demand for food and growing competition for land, energy, and water, and improve the efficiency, quality, and sustainability of these systems."
Future projects through the 5G Living Lab could include precision health, virtual medicine, and smart cities.
Telus recently announced it would raise $1.3 billion to speed up its capital investments in fibre optic internet and 5G wireless services in Alberta, B.C., and Quebec.