The Indiana 5G Zone is working to launch a $2 million grant program to accelerate 5G-related projects in key industries around the state.
The program is designed to help companies apply 5G technology in certain key areas: advanced manufacturing, digital agriculture, smart cities, public safety and national defense.
“We’re looking for connectivity solutions, we’re looking for solutions involving edge computing, we’re looking for novel digital experiences. At the end of the day, we’re really looking to find use cases that have a commercial viability to them,” said Sean Hendrix, chief technology officer at Zionsville-based NineTwelve Institute Inc.
NineTwelve, which operates the Indiana 5G Zone, has received $2.5 million from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to fund the grant program.
Of that funding, $2 million will be used for the grants—likely about 10 grants averaging $200,000 each. Recipients will be required to provide a financial match.
The remaining $500,000 will cover both program management fees and equipment updates for the Indiana 5G Zone, a downtown Indianapolis 5G development and testing facility that opened in December 2020.
Hendrix said the grant program is targeting mid-sized companies that are either working individually or teaming up with other parties. “This isn’t seed funding. It’s for established companies.”
Now that 5G technology has launched, Hendrix said, the challenge for industry is to figure out how to use that technology in relevant ways. As one example: A manufacturer might see an opportunity to use wireless video systems, sensors and artificial intelligence to do quality inspections on finished goods. In order to work quickly and reliably enough to replace human inspection, such a system would have to be built using 5G networks.
The grant program is designed to help fund projects that will last for about six to nine months and will be complete by the end of 2023.
Grant recipients will have access to the Indiana 5G Zone as they develop and test their projects.
Hendrix said NineTwelve is working now to launch an online application portal for those who wish to apply for grant funding. Once available, that portal will be accessible through the Indiana 5G Zone’s website, www.indiana5gzone.com. Applicants can also email info@indiana5gzone with questions.
The application portal should be up and running by summertime, Hendrix said.