State of the drone market: Nordic countries

Drone research company Drone Industry Insights’ preliminary analysis into various world drone markets this time makes a stopover in the Nordic countries.

Let’s see where the opportunities lie for drone technology in the area.

You can find the original publication here.

While it is not often mentioned under the usual listings of “global regions”, the Nordic region has a very rich history and a dynamic culture that spectacularly balances integration and segregation.

This region includes the Scandinavian countries of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Norway and Sweden, as well as neighbouring Finland and Iceland; and while entire books and encyclopaedias could be written about these countries’ similar-yet-different histories and languages, their drone markets are equally vibrant.

Opportunity for Drones in the Nordics

The Nordic countries have a combined population of 28 million people, with Iceland having the smallest population (361 thousand) and Sweden having the largest (10.5 million). 

Geographically, these countries cover a substantial area of 1.26 million km². Norway, Finland and Sweden cover areas between 323,000-450,000 km² and Denmark is by far the smallest country at 43,094 km² (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands) which is half the size of Iceland (103 km²).

All of this means that the Nordic countries as a whole have a cumulative population density of 22.29 people per square km, though the average density is 39.7 people per km² given the vast difference between Denmark (138) and Iceland (3.5).

How does all of that translate into the use of drones in the Nordic countries?

In recent news, the AQUADA-GO project, funded largely by the Danish Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme (EUDP) is developing drone technology with AI to automate the inspection of offshore wind turbine blades while they are still spinning, which could reduce the cost and carbon footprint of inspections compared to the current manual process.

Meanwhile, the Icelandic authorities plan to use its high-end drones equipped with ground-penetrating radar to map the extent and aftermath of the Eldvörp-Svartsengi volcanic system eruption in Iceland, which has rendered the nearby fishing village of Grindavík uninhabitable. 

In Finland, a study found that LTE mobile networks can be effectively used for low-capacity command and control links in beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations in rural areas of Finland, especially when using terminals with multiple simultaneous LTE connections to ensure reliable coverage.

Naturally, Russian military activity has also led to more focus on surveillance applications. The Norwegian government plans to invest in long-range drones for sea surveillance in the High North, while the Swedish Home Guard has selected the Parrot Anafi USA drone to enhance its surveillance and protection capabilities.

Nordic Drone Market Composition

At this point in the country market series, at least one important pattern has become evident: wealthier countries tend to have a higher share of small drone companies.

The Nordic drone market is no different, where practically four out of ten companies are composed of 10 employees or less. Another 25 percent of drone companies in the Nordic countries have between 11-50 employees meaning that 65 percent of the Nordic drone market is made up of companies with 50 or fewer employees.

Conversely, however, eleven percent of survey respondents reported a company size of more than 2,500 employees. Therefore, the market is not exclusively limited to small companies and there are also large drone companies as well as big corporations with large drone programs. 

When it comes to their business activities, it is once again Drone Service Providers (DSPs) that represent the largest share of the Nordic drone market (36 percent). Again, given the plethora of use cases for drone technology, it is very often the case that companies specialize offering in a particular drone activity as a business service and consequently DSP represents the largest share of the market.

Interestingly, Software Manufacturers (21 percent) represent the second-biggest share of the Nordic drone market. Many people might not consider Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden as software powerhouses, but there are nevertheless plenty of promising drone software companies in the region.

Priorities and Challenges for Nordic Drone Companies

Much like the rest of the world, the top business priority in the Nordic drone market is Marketing & Sales. As mentioned before, now that both drone hardware and software are highly developed and reliable, companies in general focus less on the development stage and more on marketing and selling their products.

Naturally, however, there is still some need for customisation and/or sophistication for specific tasks, which is perhaps why software development is the second priority for drone companies in the Nordic countries. This is also likely connected to the increased emphasis on surveillance that was mentioned at the outset.

In terms of challenges, the usual suspect of regulation once again tops the list. This has been the case since previous years because of the slow pace of regulatory implementation.

However, as more laws take effect throughout the world, the amount of drone activity is set to increase while the concern over regulation should be expected to decrease. (High) Inflation, the second-place challenge for the Nordic drone market, has also been a primary concern in other countries surveyed, but it is nevertheless a temporary phenomenon.

Lastly, Domestic Politics was listed as a third challenge, which is in a sense surprising given the relatively stable political environment of the region as a whole.

Nordic Drones: Open to the World

Overall, drone companies in the Nordic countries are more optimistic than the global average. With a score of 7.1 compared to 6.6, the higher optimism is quite robust even if not as eager as places like India.

However, India’s optimism is propelled by strong protectionist national policies while the Nordic drone market is simply carrying on with business as usual and instead focuses on opening up to the world.

This is evidenced by companies such as Everdrone (Sweden) which has shown the world the life-saving potential of drone technology or Nordic Unmanned (Norway) which operates far beyond the Nordic borders.

Perhaps the best example of this openness is the International Drone Show, which brings together Scandinavia’s leading companies as well as other drone industry leaders from around the world.


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