Drones are an increasing part of the world of innovation and investment. Drones offer huge potential for the private and public sectors, and can greatly benefit societies, from lowering pollution in transport to emergency medical assistance and precision agriculture. In 2015, the European Commission launched the Aviation Strategy for Europe to boost this part of the economy. In the next 20 years, the Commission envisages this sector creating 150 000 to 200 000 jobs.

In 2019, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank launched the European Drone Investment  Advisory Platform. This platform will make it easier to get European Union support and build awareness of the instruments and funding available.

It’s great to be part of this innovative project that brings together the Bank’s long-standing expertise in urban transport and the use of cutting-edge technologies.

  • Ozhan Yilmaz, smart transport specialist, EIB

Following the launch of the platform, the Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport approached the Advisory Hub for assistance. The Hub undertook a study to assess the potential and investment needs of the industry across Member States.

With the support of experts brought together by the Hub, the study will highlight the potential size of the market and help a number of cities develop business cases that could be replicated in other cities and regions. The review will identify parts of the market that don’t have enough financing and measure the benefits of drone operations. 

It will also gauge how the public feels about drones and recommend how social or economic benefits can be assured through growth in the drone segment.

The Advisory Hub is also providing tailor-made advisory support to European cities that want to develop individual drone projects, such as the examples below.

Drones to the rescue

In Trikala, Greece, many elderly people live in isolated situations and cannot easily get medicine or medical supplies. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated this situation and has increased the need for an easy way to deliver medical supplies remotely to isolated and vulnerable parts of society. The city has decided to develop a drone operation to deliver these supplies to peoples’ doorsteps, integrating drones into the transport network. Trikala will be a testbed for drone use in south-eastern Europe.


Part of a rapid emergency response

The city of Toulouse, France, is looking to use drones to respond quickly to health emergencies, such as carrying medical supplies and blood from one hospital to another. Drones would be a big benefit for first responders and ambulance drivers, but they also would ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions. The project would also develop a “U-space system” to ensure that drones can use airspace safely.


Our experts are also working with the European Commission’s Smart Cities Marketplace initiative, a wider network of cities interested in urban air mobility, to design a roadmap that will support the development of drone projects in Europe. This practical set of guidelines for the public and private sectors to introduce drone technologies will help increase investment in this field and have benefits for the environment and for cities’ economies.

Moreover, the roadmap will serve as a progress evaluation tool for promoters that are seeking financing for their projects, as they will be able to demonstrate the tangible steps and bankability of the project. The support of the Advisory Hub will be key to making sure that these ambitious and innovative projects find financing, and this will also significantly improve the quality of the services provided by cities. As drone technologies move further into the mainstream, the Advisory Hub is eager to further support this sector.