The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership has now
formally closed as a registered limited company.

To stay updated on the latest economic developments throughout the region, we encourage you to visit the South East Midlands Growth Hub. The SEM Growth Hub also provides free business advice and guidance to all businesses, manages funding and grant programmes and has an extensive resource library where businesses can find additional support.

Visit the South East Midlands Growth Hub here

You can still continue to browse the SEMLEP website, and contact
all employees using their existing email addresses.

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School students having a discussion with their teacher
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Passionate about innovation

21 October 2021

Sahasra Basran joined the SEMLEP team in 2017 as a Project Officer within the Growth Hub. After thriving in a number of roles, Sahasra joined SEMLEP’s Investment Team and was quickly promoted to Programmes Contracts Manager.

In her role, Sahasra manages the Local Growth Fund (LGF) programme for SEMLEP, overseeing £265m of government investment designed to create jobs, support learners, and enable new homes.
With the programme coming to a close in 2022 and many projects reaching completion over the coming months, Sahasra has shared details of one of her recent project visits –with room service delivery robots and e-scooters thrown into the mix…

‘Resilience, innovation and prosperity are the three words I’d use to describe the projects involved in the LGF programme. Each of the 55 projects supports our area to thrive and are driven by people who are passionate about innovation.

During my time working on the programme, I’ve gotten to visit the projects at every stage. From ground-breaking ceremonies to student award evenings in the facilities we’ve funded, I’m always excited to see a concept turn into reality. It’s incredibly rewarding.

Recently, I attended the MK:5G Advisory Board meeting held at Stadium MK looking at some of the trial projects the network has enabled. The project, which received £5.3m of LGF money, is the UK’s first standalone 5G network and is trialling innovative technology that amazes me every day.

With innovation and connectivity at the heart of the programme, it really feels like we hit the nail on the head investing in MK:5G at the right time. Things that can only happen with a 5G network, really are happening at the centre of the Arc in Milton Keynes.

We’ve already showcased some of the projects trialling the technology, including businesses powering up driverless vehicles and enabling patients to be monitored without leaving their homes (concepts thought impossible 10 years ago), but the list keeps growing. Here’s some of the new tech we heard about during the meeting:

The 5G infrastructure is being used to develop a Busyness App. The idea is that the app will provide live transport information on buses, e-scooters, car parking spaces, etc. Using this information, residents can use the app to identify easier, more sustainable transport methods. For example, if you need to make a trip it might tell you that there’s an e-scooter a two-minute walk away, allowing you to make the journey in 10 minutes, with no parking charges.

Speaking of improving efficiency, the network is also powering up hotel robots (crazy right?). From greeting you in reception to delivering fresh towels to your room, robot services are being tested in the DoubleTree by Hilton at Stadium MK. Following the same trial, it’s being explored how this could support the new Milton Keynes’ women and children’s hospital. Can the robots be used to move sheets, towels, medical equipment?

Back to transport, the tech is also allowing curb-side management exploration. With electric vehicle take-up higher than average in Milton Keynes, there are more people in the centre looking to plug in their cars. A project is looking to develop an app to show residents where there is an available EV charging post, saving people driving around the car park hunting for a space.

Not only are we trialling this technology, there are plans to teach it. The programme is set to link with MK:U’s digital and cyber courses, set to benefit even more businesses.

I cannot believe how much has happened from our original investment. With a national rollout of the tech bound to happen at some point, I’d imagine our investment secured 5G in Milton Keynes about four years ahead of schedule. From the busyness in the room, I really got a sense that our investment had made MK the place for businesses to come to develop technology using the 5G network.

With 55 projects, it’s difficult to visualise the scale of the economic benefits that LGF funding has unlocked. However, our recent programme evaluation did forecast the impact. The evaluation found that by the year 2030, more than 40,000 new homes will be built, 22,000 people will be in new jobs and at least 9,000 more learners qualified in the South East Midlands, which is incredible.

As the programme nears completion, I’m proud to have played even a small role in making this possible. I’d really recommend taking a look at the projects making a difference near you!

To find out more about the Local Growth Fund programme, visit www.semlep.com/local-growth-fund/.

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