Dig it: Meet the 5 finalists of the Vodafone 5GDIG

Digging for gold: Our innovation experts have done the hard work so you don't have to - unearthing the top 5G startups. Picture credit: Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

After an exhaustive global search, the top five companies in the Vodafone #5GDIG have been chosen, and we’re so excited to introduce you to them.

Wait, what’s the 5GDIG?

Vodafone has been busy looking for tech start-ups around the world using 5G in interesting ways. First, we asked our friends at Founders Factory, CoVentured and Whitespace  to help us find 100 companies that fit the bill. Then we split them into five categories (because 5G, of course):

Gaming

Media & entertainment

Healthcare

Automotive

Smart cities & industry.

From there, we narrowed down the top 20, which included companies from the US, Italy, Israel and Portugal – and ten from the United Kingdom.

We’re giving all 20 worldwide exposure and their own branded exhibition space at the UK’s UNBOUND innovation festival this July. But that’s not all.

The top five shortlisted companies will be pitching to become our overall winner, who’ll be chosen live by an esteemed judging panel  [on the day. They’ll be rewarded with all-expenses-paid tickets to UNBOUND Miami, as well as valuable meetings and pitching opportunities with industry mentors, tech investors and senior leaders across Vodafone’s key markets.

Ready to find out who they are?

Show me the shortlist

Our five amazing finalists all convinced us they understand the unprecedented potential of 5G technology, and are planning appropriately big things for it.

Whether they’ll be taking advantage of the blistering speeds, low latency, wifi-level reliability or mass connectivity of 5G – or all of those things – we believe they’re adding something truly valuable to the global data exchange.

Let’s meet them.

Supponor

England vs. Costa Rica – visible & virtual. London-based Supponor has made it into the top 5 pioneering 5G start-ups for its innovative work using AR in sports marketing. Picture credit: Supponor

This British sports marketing company came through our Media and Entertainment category, and impressed us with their use of 5G to offer incredibly low latency in augmented reality (AR) tech.

If you don’t know the name, Supponor are pioneers in the new field of virtual replacement for live sports broadcasting.

That means instead of the same few logos around the pitch being seen by everyone watching a football match, rights and media owners can work with local sponsors and partners to show relevant localised advertising in AR.

To date, Supponor’s tech has been deployed at more than 300 prestigious sporting events, replacing old-school mass advertising with higher-impact, better-targeted and all-round more creative solutions.

“Supponor is privileged to have been shortlisted as one of the top five tech companies working in 5G to participate at 5GDIG,” says managing director Ross Hair. “The possibilities 5G brings in expanding the reach of live sports content across traditional broadcast and new platforms opens up a wealth of opportunity for technology such as ours to be utilised by brands to further extend their reach.”

Polystream

Polystream enables games and 3D applications to be cost-effectively streamed with unrivalled reach and unprecedented scale. Picture credit: Polystream

Another British company, Guildford-based Polystream offers livestreaming of games and 3D apps from the cloud.

Cloud gaming is a particularly tricky tech problem to solve, not only because of the cost of the processing power required, but also the need for strong, fast networks and super-low latency.

5G makes something that was considered impossible just ten years ago not only possible but actively progressing, and Polystream is at the cutting edge of that transformation.

As CEO Bruce Grove puts it, “We believe in the power of distributed networks, the intelligent edge, and the visual cloud, bringing them all together, transforming how the world consumes interactive content and services.”

SurgeonMate

SurgeonMate from Portugal was invented by a doctor who wanted to find ways to record and share surgical records to help healthcare professionals all around the world. Picture credit: SurgeonMate

Hailing from Portugal, SurgeonMate is a content storage company that helps surgeons create their own library of medical records and interactive media.

The idea for the company came from its founder’s observation that modern surgery is still taught in the same way it always has been: through books and static photographs. In the digital age, we have far better tools for teaching the lifesaving skills of surgery, in the form of video and interactive content.

SurgeonMate uses a combination of hardware and software to broadcast surgical skills across the internet, resulting in a powerful ‘telementoring’ tool that connects medical professionals around the world. Mentors wear proprietary smart glasses to record, share and access a huge range of modern teaching materials in real-time using 5G.

SurgeonMate comments, “By connecting surgeons in real-time, we make telementoring of cutting-edge techniques look easy.”

Conigital

Conigital pod hailing app. Picture credit: Conigital

Birmingham-based Conigital is an autonomous vehicle company using deep AI and automation techniques to organise ground transport fleets at some of the world’s biggest airports.

The company is currently developing its own platform, ConICAV, which targets the £907 billion connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) market. ConICAV allows self-driving vehicles to work together in real-time using 5G connectivity.

Conigital’s software includes automation in the vehicles and their environments, and makes it easy and efficient for autonomous vehicles to slot into existing transportation systems.

Next time you see a vehicle driving itself around airside when you’re off on your holidays, it might well be running on Conigital software.

weAR

Augmented & Mixed Reality for MRO. Picture credit: WeAr

This exciting Italian startup specialises in user-generated manuals that are delivered through mobile and wearable devices in augmented (AR) and mixed reality (MR).

The idea is to help maintenance people work more efficiently and effectively in the field, because when you’ve got your hands full of tools, you can’t really be flipping through a 50-page paper manual.

weAR‘s user manuals are designed to be user-friendly even for non-techies, and are delivered in on-demand through the cloud using 5G network technology. The company compares its offering to an augmented reality PowerPoint presentation, showing you what to do in real time.

weAR CEO and founder Dr. Emanuele Borasio comments, “We are extremely happy that Vodafone has believed in our project even knowing the quality of the companies participating in the 5GDIG challenge. We believe 5G connections are a cornerstone of solutions for Industry 4.0 and a relevant part of our platform for creating user manuals with AR/MR.”

What next?

Our top five shortlisted companies will appear at the UNBOUND innovation festival on the 17th of July, where they’ll pitch their products for a shot at the big prize. The 20 shortlisted companies will also be there.

Look out for the expanded long list with 100 startups doing amazing things in the 5G ecosystem.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be following up on the start-ups that made the list here on Gigalife – and the final winner.

The summer of 5G is here.

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