UKRI to invest £70m in new future telecoms technologies

Telecommunications tower, antenna and satellite. Cellular station for smart city connect, aerial view.

Secretary of State announces UK’s commitment to new coalition and pledges £70 million for Future Telecoms through the UKRI Technology Missions Fund (TMF).

The UK is joining forces with leading nations to strengthen coordination on telecoms security, resilience and innovation as a new global coalition is launched today (5 October 2023).

Together with Australia, Canada, Japan and the US, the UK will use the coalition to help ensure communications networks can remain resilient and adaptable when confronted with challenges, ranging from supply chain disruption to cyber attacks, strengthening the country’s ability to stay connected at the most critical times.

The Global Coalition on Telecommunications (GCOT) will also explore opportunities for closer coordination in areas such as research and development, information sharing and international outreach.

Through these initiatives the coalition seeks to advance several shared objectives which include promoting growth opportunities for industry and enabling dialogue between policymakers, business, and academia. Read the joint statement.

Shaping the future

University-led Future Telecoms Research Hubs will facilitate early-stage research boosting the UK’s role in shaping the future of 6G technologies. In addition to the hubs Innovate UK will fund application-focused challenges to accelerate market-ready solutions and foster collaboration in the UK’s telecoms sector.

International cooperation across both of these areas, including through the new GCOT partnership, will ensure UK activity shapes global telecoms technologies, upholds our values, and safeguards our security interests.

Innovate UK competitions under the Future Telecoms TMF are launching from 6 October 2023.

Power of telecommunications

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said:

This historic partnership reflects our shared commitment to harnessing the power of telecommunications for the benefit of our nations and the world at large.

Telecommunications networks are the lifeline of global economies, and safeguarding their resilience and security in an evolving, interconnected world is a top priority for our governments.

By joining forces, the UK and our partners are well-positioned to take the lead in broadening supply chains, nurturing industry knowledge, and bolstering security to address emerging challenges.

Next generation of telecommunications

Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator said:

The critical telecommunications issues of today are global in scope.

This groundbreaking coalition will help the U.S. and our partners respond decisively to cross-border opportunities and challenges. By working ever more closely together, the Coalition members will advance secure, diverse, resilient, and innovative telecommunications networks around the world.

Cementing the UK’s commitment to this vital domestic and international agenda, the UK Government is also today investing an initial £70 million in cutting-edge R&D to develop the next generation of telecommunications technology via launching a Future Telecoms Technology Missions Fund (TMF) Programme.

This investment in new telecoms research will help the UK become a leader in 6G technology and beyond – including new technologies to better connect space-based and terrestrial networks, step-changes in capacity/speeds in data transfer, and improving energy efficiency of our networks through cloudification.

Universities and businesses across the UK will lead projects that bring new, game-changing ideas to the market which could benefit the public by improving internet coverage, supporting the universal rollout of self-driving cars, and reducing energy use in our growing digital world.

Transformative technologies

Dr Kedar Pandya, Executive Director, Cross-Council Programmes at UKRI, said:

This £70 million investment will, via the Future Telecoms UKRI Technology Missions Fund (TMF) Programme, form part of the UK’s contribution to international cooperation in this field and provide tangible benefits to the population and economy.

The UKRI Technology Missions funding is designed to exploit the UK’s global leadership in transformative technologies to help solve specific problems, while also helping to lay the foundations for a longer-term leading position.

This adds to the £250 million UKRI is investing through the Technology Missions Fund to enable new and existing capabilities and capacity in artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and engineering biology in the years 2023-2025 and beyond.

Further information


GCOT is an informal multilateral alliance comprising international partners, including the UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the US, with the shared objective of facilitating collaborative communication and joint activities in the realm of telecommunications policy.

GCOT endeavours to promote international consensus, foster global dialogue, and drive innovation within the telecommunications industry.

Future Telecoms

Future Telecoms is one of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s five priority technologies under the science and technology framework.

The Future Telecoms Mission will deliver an initial investment of £70 million through the UKRI TMF until the end of this spending review period in April 2025. Further information on the announcement last April is available on GOV.UK.

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