Shot in arm for drone start-up’s expansion drive

Amsterdam-based delivery drone maker Avy has declared its readiness to expand its operations after receiving a €1,4million shot in the arm from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.

Avy won the grant after responding to calls from the European Commission for project proposals that contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once known as SME Instrument, The European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator is part of the council pilot that supports top-class innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with funding opportunities and acceleration services. The programme supports high-risk, high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises and innovators to help them develop and bring onto the market new innovative products, services and business models that could drive economic growth. Selected companies receive funding and optional equity and are offered business coaching and mentoring to scale up their innovation idea. They get extra acceleration services to connect with investors, corporates and likeminded entrepreneurs.

Avy’s granted subsidy will enable the company to expand its experience and expertise in Europe, with the company barely able to mask their excitement at the prospect of imminent growth.

“We are proud to announce that Avy secured €1.4 million in subsidy grant from EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme!” The company said in a statement. “We’re honoured that our medical delivery drones have been recognised as an important innovation for the future by the European Commission, and are ready to contribute to the increasing demand for delivery drones in the long and short term.”

The Avy Team at the Lake Kivu Challenge in February

The Dutch start-up has developed a fixed-wing drone for emergency medical deliveries, that combines the flexibility of autonomous flight features and the efficiency of an aeroplane. Capable of carrying a payload of 2,2 kg, the drone can fly for more than 70 kilometres beyond the visual line of sight, and had become integral in these times of increasing demand for emergency healthcare where reducing the reaction time between notification and medical delivery is becoming important. Avy say their goal is to ensure medical care in a changing world and to prove that drones can contribute to bringing care in the right place at the right time. Not only in the Netherlands, and Europe but also in emerging markets such as Africa where Avy is also active.

Avy was one of the first drone start-ups to join the United Nations Children’s emergency Fund (UNICEF) in their quest to find solutions to the slow transportation of blood samples from remote areas to laboratory centres in Malawi. In February, they took part in the Lake Kivu Challenge held in Rwanda, where the Avy won the safety category in a tough competition that included formidable start-ups like German Drones, Phoenix Wings, Wingcopter, Venturi and Volans-i, Hojung Solutions, Drone Adventures, Qlex and Leapr Labs.

“We are a ‘Drones for good’ organisation,” says Patrique Zaman, CEO and founder of Avy. “This means that we use our technology for life-saving applications. Think about medication transport or, supporting the fire brigade and the police. We founded Avy with the aim of developing an electric wing drone that flies fully autonomously and without emissions, that can take off and land vertically and whose operations are focused on life-saving missions and applications.

He goes on. “Together with the Medical Drone Service consortium, we have been investigating how drones can be used for the transport of blood, medicines and diagnostic samples from care locations to hospitals and laboratories since 2019. We do this together with ANWB Medical Air Assistance and PostNL, medical partners Erasmus MC and Sanquin and various technology partners.

“It’s time to use our expertise and experience to make a contribution to the logistical challenge of centralised care within Europe.”


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