While the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries still explores whether there is a need for a national drone center, Andøya Space Center positions itself to become the preferred choice should politicians give a thumb’s up.
The market for launching commercial satellites is not the only growing market. The drone industry and the development of drone systems progress at a high pace and there are not many places in Europe that suited for testing.
At the very end of 2018, Andøya Space Center established a subsidiary called Norwegian Drone Center. Odd Roger Enoksen, CEO of the space center, is Chairman of the Board of the newly established drone center.
- The government has an ongoing process in which it is considering a national drone center. A part of that consideration is to potentially locate such a center at Andøya Space Center or Andøya Test Center. We, however, thought it was about high time to get started and demonstrate progress, the former MP said when the drone center was established.
Sees major opportunities
Enoksen is convinced that Norway has the opportunity to get ahead of the international competition both when it comes to the development as well as the use of drones:
- New drone centers are established several places in Europe, however, there are few or none that hold the same preconditions as we do in Norway. Therefore, we have established the Norwegian Drone Center and have an ambition to make this a gathering resource for the entire Norwegian drone industry with test facilities several places in Norway as well as a broad collaboration between companies, academia and official offices, says the ASC Director.
The Norwegian drone strategy, launched last March, states that the government will take a closer look at business financing of a national competence and test center for drones. The strategy also emphasizes the facilitating of testing and development of drones operating under demanding weather conditions.
The Ministry initially wants to map the need for a national drone center. Business actors are thus invited to provide feedback to the Ministry by 1 March 2019.
- Must be industry driven
- First and foremost, we are to explore what a national drone center should be and whether or not that is something we need. it would have to be industry driven, and need driven for public sector, i.e. municipality, county and state, says Daniel Bjarmann-Simonsen (Con), State Secretary for Trade and Industry Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, to High North News.
- I am amongst others to organize an input meeting, and I have invited some 20-30 participants from both the private and the public sector in order to get a solid and more thorough understanding of what the needs are, so that we get a clearer image of what we need, Bjarmann-Simonsen says.
- After that, we will have to start working out the details he says, before indicating that the results from the mapping process may be ready during the summer.
He does not believe that a decision on whether or not there will be an establishing of a national drone center will be ready until later this year.
In addition to the newly established Norwegian Drone Center at Andøya there are also a few other Norwegian stakeholders who have listed their interest in housing a future national drone center.
- Andøya has some natural advantages provided by nature, however, this also depends largely on the potential tasks of a national drone center, says the State Secretary.
This article originally appeared in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.