Dutch autonomous systems field lab Unmanned Valley has announced subsidies for participating startups and maturing innovators of drone, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and sensor-based technologies.

Unmanned Valley drone money

Situated in a former naval base 16 km (10 miles) north of the Hague, Unmanned Valley says the subsidy scheme will award up to €25,000 ($30,000) in financing for qualifying developers of unmanned technology, autonomous systems, sensors, and related applications. A total of €300,000 in seeding finance has been allotted for that purpose, funded by host Dutch city Katwijk and the European Regional Development Fund. 

One of the major conditions stipulated is that prospective subsidy candidates finance at least 25% of their project themselves.

The new funding capacity reflects just how urgent Unmanned Valley officials and tech experts across Europe believe faster development of drones and other unmanned systems has become.

Needed: drones, fast

The European Union has produced some world leaders in the drone technologies, of course – Parrot of France being an obvious example. Yet there is considerable concern that Europe is lagging behind more generally in the development of unmanned, sensor-based systems. With such tech now integrated into virtually all aspects of business, economic, and leisure activity, the price of Europe being left watching would be enormous.

The objective of the subsidy program, says Unmanned Valley project director Theo de Vries, is to give innovators support that will nurture and speed their development efforts into working, marketable reality.

Innovative ideas from young companies must become successful more quickly, be relevant and applicable (to) create value. With this scheme, we want to make more use of the innovative power of startups and scale-ups and accelerate sensor-based innovation, thereby making the business climate at Unmanned Valley even more attractive and creating new high-tech employment in the region.

Everyone in an unmanned rush

It didn’t take long for Unmanned Valley to feel compelled to kick its innovative effort into higher gear. The campus-cum-lab only opened its doors to participating startups last year as an initiative by the Delft University of Technology. Its priorities for 2021 include reinforcing infrastructure and testing facilities, and strengthening its interfacing with the business community, educational institutions, and government. 

Its subsidy plan follows similar incentivizing projects by Unmanned Valley partner organizations InnovationQuarter and Do IoT Fieldlab. The voucher-based rewards in those aim to strengthen communication and collaboration between innovating unmanned tech startups and prospective end users, established companies, and other potential partners.

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