How do start up opportunities in Europe for drone technology compare to those in the United States.

Jace Grandinette

For that question, we speak with Heriberto Saldivar, the technical director for the Reimagine Drone program, an accelerator for drone startups organized by Brinc and Incubio. In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Heri talks about current trends in the European drone market and how they compare to the U.S. market.  He also talks about the finalists of the Reimagine Drone Accelerator and how those companies fit into the European drone market.

In This Episode

  • Introduction. Meet Heriberto (Heri) Saldivar of the Reimagine Drone Accelerator Program, based in Barcelona, Spain. The Reimagine Drone Accelerator is a partnership between Brinc and Incubio to nurture start-up companies in the drone industry. In 2016, Reimagine Drone held a competition with 10 start-ups. In March 2017, three finalists were selected.
  • European Drone Industry. Heri talks about the European Drone market, the differences from the U.S. market and the industries poised for growth (agriculture).
  • Where the Accelerator Fits In. Brinc is based in Hong Kong and has a long history in working with Chinese manufacturers. This experience gives the start-ups the knowledge they need to create products designed for the European market that can more easily be mass produced.
  • Why Barcelona. Heri talks about the assets that make Barcelona a drone technology hub, including the pro-technology stance of the government, the presence of several research entities and the support and interest of other businesses.
  • Drone Racing. Drone racing is becoming popular in Europe, as it is in the United States. The accelerator has a space which is being converted to a dedicated drone racing rink to capitalize on this interest.
  • Status of the Reimagine Drone Accelerator. Three finalists have been selected, representing three different dimensions of drone technology. Because the companies are coming from three different spectrums of the drone industry, they are collaborating on areas that can make their respective products better. In the end, it is a competition, but as Heri describes, the team members are learning the important entrepreneurial lesson of collaboration.
    • SkyDrones produces flight control system solutions for drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. The system allows performing of both manual and fully autonomous flights, including various flight modes.
    • Poladrone develops autonomous aerial solutions and data analytics for agriculture industries to help drive lower management costs.
    • Kapetair makes a highly efficient autonomous VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) UAV platform for commercial and civilian applications that can autonomously take off and land on almost any surface, including water. Kapetair drones can also perform long missions, flying faster and covering much more area than traditional drones.
  • Next Steps. The three teams will continue to refine their products. Brinc and Incubio is coordinating mentors to support the team’s work. They are also actively seeking investors for each of the company’s. The winner of the Reimagine Drone competition will be announced on May 31.
  • The Drone Show. Heri was conducting this interview while attending The Drone Show in Barcelona. This show is the first exhibition and congress of drones in the region, and showcased groundbreaking innovations in drone technology. Heri talks about the show and his impressions of the event’s exhibits and focus.
  • Lessons Learned. Having worked with start-ups for a while, Heri’s advice to other entrepreneurs are to make sure they’ve done their research and have solid use case for drones before moving too far. Drones have gone through a hype cycle and the hype is starting to wane. If a use case finds that drones are necessary to achieve the outcome, that’s good. But if other technologies can achieve the same result or if the individual is moving forward because they think using drones are “cool”, then a lot of caution should be exercised.
  • Heriberto’s Passion. Heri talks about the enjoyment he gets from working with early stage companies and helping them to develop innovative products that could change the world.
  • Reimagine Drone #2 – Final Comments. Brinc and Incubio are working on plans for a second Reimagine Drone Accelerator later in 2017. Entrepreneurs should check out the website for announcements.