The University of Alberta (U of A)  is announcing a five-year partnership with TELUS to establish a 5G “Living Lab” that will contribute to a pipeline of new research and technology with commercial applications.

A $15 million investment from TELUS will provide 5G infrastructure that will allow both organizations to advance research and technology for pressing challenges.

“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,” says Bill Flanagan, president of  U of A. “This is the sort of diversification opportunity that provincial, education, and business leaders are pushing for in order to position Alberta to compete globally.”

The funding will help the university prioritize research projects with a direct path to public or commercial viability in the areas of precision agriculture and autonomous vehicles.

Potential subsequent partnerships in precision health, virtual medicine, and smart cities may also result from the funding, and may leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver innovation and technology solutions in these areas.

Ibrahim Gedeon, chief technology officer at TELUS says the company is excited to be part of the initiative and to be investing in technological innovation to create sustainable, intellectual wealth for Alberta and Canada.

“The promise of creating jobs and positioning leading technology to support innovation in education and providing solutions for both Alberta and Canada as leaders in the connected and digital economy is crucial. We are proud to support the faculty and students at U of A, and we are confident that this alliance will propel our efforts to further enhance the lives of all Canadians through this technology,” Gedeon says.

The U of A is home to the Autonomous Vehicle Testbed, where researchers develop and test autonomous vehicle technologies that allow vehicles to see the road or potential obstacles, communicate seamlessly with its environment and other vehicles, and make immediate decisions regarding speed, direction, and safety.

Researchers will also be able to address global problems in agriculture and food systems — increasing demand for food, or the growing competition for land, energy, and water, as examples.

Stan Blade, dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences at U of A says that having precision agriculture highlighted in the first stage of the partnership will create unique opportunities for them to generate new, innovative ideas with their partners.

“The agriculture and food sector has been a leader in developing new technologies based on effective collection and use of data for diverse applications. Our expertise across the entire agrifood value chain and extensive industry collaborations will generate many new initiatives in both teaching and research using the strengths of the TELUS 5G Living Lab,” says Blade.

As the fifth generation of technology for broadband cellular networks, mobile data speeds for 5G are up to 100 times faster than 4G.

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