RESULTS WATCH: The Drone Market Landscape

Environmental sustainability is a key priority for policy-makers in the European Parliament and the executive bodies of the European Commission, and measures taken to strengthen the “green” markets of all sectors as Europe attracts the largest bulk of sustainable investing [1], and supported by EU institutions will be necessary to achieve the goals of the Green Deal. 

One of the core principles of the Green Deal is the Farm to Fork Strategy and Biodiversity Strategy aiming to put agriculture at the centre of such collaborative EU efforts to address the climate and environmental challenges. ICAERUS project, funded by HorizonEurope, ambitiously promises to contribute to the achievements of sustainable development by introducing multi-purpose drone innovations that offer sustainable alternatives to the conventional agricultural methods and significantly reduce any negative impacts. The project pivots on the assumption that successful execution and market deployment of drone innovations involves the efforts of multiple stakeholders that cooperate, interact, and feed each other with knowledge as parts of an interconnected ecosystem. To parametrise key aspects of this ecosystem, the project’s pre-selected five industrial use cases investigate the relationships between stakeholders, performance, dynamics and strategies.

For this purpose, WP1 Drone Landscape Analysis creates the foundations for the operational framework of ICAERUS. It establishes the processes and mechanics for collecting the needed background information from the stakeholders and their networks and transforms it via quantitative techniques into a valuable set of knowledge. The bottom-up approach applied in the stakeholder analysis aims to understand the needs, interests and goals of our use cases’ networks, stakeholder’s roles in the country’s ecosystem and their dynamic developments. Furthermore, the market analysis and the applied top-down approach thoroughly research the current and potential demand and supply in the local markets of the project’s use cases to better understand the characteristics and challenges of the European drone industry.

The initial market research results show immense potential for each use case with a global growth rate of each drone market segment between 10% – 30%[2] by 2030. The market data will feed the methodology of designing business models and market strategies to turn the use cases into modern sustainable practices in Europe. In more details:

  • UC1: represents a very good commercial case of crop monitoring and vineyard disease detection by drone in large-scale terrains of mercantile vineyards in Tarragona (Spain), where there is a clear shift toward both more high-quality wine products among the local customers and organic grape production with 23,000 ha in Catalonia. Developing a sustainable business model for UC1 might expand the market to other regions of Spain or even to neighbouring countries.

  • UC2: represents an optimisation process in precision agriculture, where the usage of drone spraying could increase crop yields. It develops drone services in the region of Attika (Greece) to explore all benefits of automatic pesticides spraying, collecting data, and assessing the economic indicators of crop production. The success of UC2 and its potential business model could turn the agricultural sector into a data-driven industry in a country where traditionally the agriculture has had a large GDP share of 4% and employed 684,900 people[3].

  • UC3: has a large scope and aims to utilise drone monitoring of land, farming terrains and livestock. It is at its experimental phase, and two R & D farms[4] in the French provinces of Alps will apply drones to optimise the process of livestock monitoring during times of grazing and resting. UC3 has the business potential to scale-up to other regions where beef cattle, goats, buffaloes, or horses are in large numbers, as well as grassland terrains are huge, and thus, drone services can be efficiently examined.

  • UC4: will offer business digital solutions to landowners and state agencies in charge of forest protection and biodiversity in Lithuania. Forests cover 33.7% of the country’s territory, and as much as half of it is privately owned – 923, 800 ha[5]. It designs drone technology for forest health assessment in spots where natural disasters – fire, snow wind, water logging, drought or wild animal detection – are much more likely to happen. Its market could expand to the Scandinavia based on public-private partnerships.

  • UC5: offers a B2C solution aiming to provide an overall improvement of the supply chain in small packages and medical products as well as the quality of life in rural areas. UC5 has great opportunities of commercialisation and is open to services offered to various customer groups, including the ones for social purposes (isolated villages & towns, and mountain residences) in the Balkans. It starts with a demo in North Macedonia, but with high chances of customisation, it could potentially develop a successful business model.

In conclusion, the key expected outcome of this market research is to provide a deep understanding of the current drone landscape by collecting both reliable global data and more narrowly defined information that will ensure adequate support for:
1) the market development of the project’s use cases,
2) validation of the business & governance models in later packages,
3) and finally equipping the European stakeholders with appropriate skills.

[1] The Economist, “The tenacity of ESG investing: A green-finance boom has not been followed by bust”, 16/11/22
[2] The growth rate varies depending on the market segment
[3] Hellenic Statistical Authority, 2020
[4] Two R&D farms are Jalogny and Carmejane farms in the villages of Jalogny and Le Chaffaut-Saint-Jurson
[5] State Forest Service of Lithuania, 2020

1024 768 ICAERUS

Drone Stakeholders survey (e.g. Drone manufacturers, Drone service providers, Software developers)

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      Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

      ©2022 ICAERUS Project