The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have announced today the launch of a “European Drone Investment - Advisory Platform” to support innovation and investment in drones. The initiative aims to improve access to EU support in this field and to develop a better understanding of the market to improve investment beyond 2021.
The announcement was made at an international conference on drone threats organised by the European Commission on 17 October 2019. Although there is growing concern among stakeholders in aviation, law enforcement and many other sectors about the misuse of drones – whether intentional or accidental – at the same time, the Commission recognises that drones have many legitimate uses that can benefit the European economy.
Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said: “Drones offer huge potential for many economic sectors. Based on the Commission’s initiative, the EU has recently established rules on requirements for drones and drone operations providing a stable legal framework. Now, together with EIB, we want to go one step further by supporting additional investment and ensuring European leadership in innovative technology and smart applications at the service of people and business.”
“We are excited to support the European Commission in this initiative. New clean, digital and automated technologies, such as drones, are profoundly changing transport as we know it,” said Mr. Vazil Hudák, Vice-President at the EIB. “The technology is developing at an incredibly fast pace. Nowadays, unmanned aircraft can monitor traffic, carry out infrastructure inspections, manage crowds and offer smart mobility solutions, thus adding a new dimension to the way we currently live and travel.
The steady uptake of drones services in commercial activities observed in the past few years should continue in the coming years. By 2022, the global number of mass-market drones is projected to reach 35 million units – of which some 25% are in Europe.
Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is an area where the EC sees new opportunities for drone services emerging. However, the opportunities may go well beyond the delivery of small parcels or even passenger-carrying air taxis. Drones can bring many new facilities for citizens, companies, cities or remote local communities, through a wide array of applications in various fields, such as medical and emergency assistance, inspection and monitoring of plants or solar parks, medical supplies and home deliveries, mapping, precision agriculture, civil engineering, etc. The benefits to communities and businesses of these services could be significant. Moreover, drones can bring a major contribution to the digitalisation and decarbonisation of transport.
To support further develop and take advantage of these opportunities, various EU financing options are already available in the current financial framework, notably via the Investment Plan for Europe, Horizon 2020 and Connecting Europe Facility. However, awareness of available funding and financing instruments is generally low, a situation that is exacerbated by the complexity of the grant environment.
The launch of the “European Drone Investment - Advisory Platform” seeks to address this by creating a single entry for project sponsors, resulting in better visibility, focus, and cooperation between stakeholders. Not only will the Platform provide information and advice on potential funding sources, but it will also offer other support, for example by assessing the market potential and identifying investment needs across the EU Member States. A study of these needs will be launched soon. The results will highlight the possible future mechanisms of support that may be integrated into the future EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) programmes.
- Publication date
- 31 October 2019
- Autonomous and connected vehicles