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Local businesses receive support to embrace digital economy

The Open University (OU) has received a £2.4 million research grant to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the South East Midlands region as they embrace the digital economy.

Thanks to the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) grant, the CityLabs consortium led by the OU will enhance research and innovation infrastructure already supporting economic growth in Milton Keynes thanks to the £18 million MK:Smart project.

With information and digital experts Fronesys and ZTE, and with support from Milton Keynes Council, CityLabs is helping 40 SMEs to develop a set of digital tools. These tools will enable the companies to fully operate in the digital economy, which describes all economic processes, transactions, interactions and activities based on digital technologies.

“The OU applies its lab knowledge and research to the workplace,” explains Business Development Manager at The Open University, Alan Fletcher, who is leading the initiative. “We have the digital expertise to advise enterprises on digital products. We host a Sigfox aerial that builds wireless networks, develop Artificial Intelligence platforms, Internet of Things-type sensors, and test beds to operate autonomous vehicles. It’s very exciting to be leading this initiative with our partners.”

CityLabs is funded until 31 May 2019.

About Author

Kath works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is a skilled communicator with more than 15 years’ experience working in both the public and private sectors. She has a BA (Hons) English and American Literature from University of Warwick and specialises in stories from the Faculty of Social Science, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, BBC programmes, and student stories. In her spare time Kath enjoys touring the country in her hand-painted camper van, Trevor.

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