Vodafone Romania inaugurated the first center of excellence within the Politehnica University of Bucharest (UPB), a project on which the company worked for a year and a half. Opened in the presence of a significant number of university students, the Vodafone Innovation Hub aims to be an incubator for research, development, and innovation in areas like 5G/6G, IoT/IoE, AI, MPN, Open RAN, Edge Computing, and robotics.
By Aurel Constantin
The Hub is a multidisciplinary concept based on teaching, research, and startup support activities, bringing together a series of academic approaches in the field of electronics, telecommunications, and information technology. Vodafone CEO Achilleas Kanaris, a panelist at the opening event, began by encouraging students to make the most of the lab and stated that he had been attracted to the project since he first heard about it, which was before Kanaris even joined Vodafone Romania.
“The project started a while back—before I arrived in the country, actually. The people who have made this project come true are alumni of this university who are now working at Vodafone. All credit goes to your alumni; we only supported them in the project. My invitation to you as students is: use it! The Hub will come to life only if you use it, if you experiment. And it’s ok to break some stuff when you experiment, we have the budget to cover the losses! One of the things I learned in my years in Boston is that when universities and tech companies work together, they can create magic. But this magic is created by you,” Achilleas Kanaris said to the students attending the event.
The CEO of Vodafone Romania emphasised the importance of digital education in a message to the authorities in our country, and highlighted Vodafone’s many initiatives in the education field.
“I really believe that in the 5G era, Romania has the chance to become an innovation center in Europe, and I hope this innovation hub will be at the heart of this new initiative. For the state, my message is that Vodafone will continue to invest in the things that matter for Romania. We believe that education is probably the most important issue to be addressed in this country, and so is access to education and digital education. The opening of this hub is one of our many such initiatives,” he added.
Partnership Between Vodafone And Politehnica Bucuresti
“In the 25 years in which Vodafone has been present in Romania, we have not stopped investing in society and education through projects that we have supported, through innovation and technology, and through strong partnerships like this one. We live in a dynamic world where technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and Vodafone’s role is to invest in tomorrow’s generation. We are honouring this promise through the lab we’re inaugurating today. It is more than a strategic investment; it is a guarantee that the best specialists can provide continuous education and training to new professionals. The Politehnica University is one of the centers of excellence that help Romania stay on top of the rankings in terms of IoT, AI, Open RAN, and other technologies of the future, and Vodafone is one of the biggest promoters of Romania’s digitalization,” Kanaris noted.
The inauguration of the Vodafone Innovation Hub center of excellence is part of the Memorandum of Collaboration between Vodafone and UPB, which targets investments in the development of digitalization programmes, research, innovation, and technology transfer.
“The Politehnica University of Bucharest is recognised as being one of the most important trainers of highly specialised engineers in the region, a position that makes our graduates highly sought after by large employers. It is a privileged position that would not have been possible without partners who are dedicated to education, research, and digitalization, such as Vodafone Romania. Through this partnership, the company encourages innovation and professional development and reinforces our shared goals of staying at the cutting edge of innovation and providing undergraduate and postgraduate students with access to the most advanced technologies and digital solutions that can help them develop their projects at the highest standard,” said Mihnea Costoiu, rector of the Politehnica University of Bucharest.
The Vodafone Innovation Hub provides students at UPB with a range of innovative technologies which they can use to conduct in-depth research both for final theses as well as for weekly labs or other projects, be it scientific sessions or international competitions. Among the most important technologies made available by Vodafone Romania through this hub are: a 5G New Radio and NB-IoT network, advanced sensors for medical applications or intelligent environmental monitoring, IoT and 5G development systems, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms used in telecommunications and IoT applications, as well as automatic image or sound processing algorithms, drones, digital twin solutions based on augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR/XR), open Software Defined Radio (SDR) communications systems, robotics, nanosatellites, mobile network and radio spectrum analysers, mobile test terminals, big data computing, and 3D printing systems.
All these technologies can also be interdisciplinary, helping students innovate and find the best solutions to different problems.
The laboratory can also host students from other universities in the country that have partnerships or joint research projects with UPB.
Vodafone plans to go beyond this Innovation Hub and to continue to build partnerships with more cities and universities in Romania in order to take the technologies of the future to as many places as possible.
“I hope this initiative, the first of its kind, will be a resounding success and give us the courage to implement more such concepts. We are already in talks with other universities, and not just in Bucharest. We want to expand to other cities as well, so I really hope for this project to be a success story that we will be able to replicate at other schools,” Achilleas Kanaris concluded.