Cooperation between Dta, Montenegro and Albania. New opportunities for companies and start-ups from the use of drones.

To work in synergy in the Apulia-Montenegro-Albania area in order to build new opportunities for the territories involved and for small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups that operate within these territories, through new experimentation and new opportunities for technology transfer in the use of drones and related services, starting with civil protection, health, precision agriculture and territorial control activities, and continuing with new forms of aerial mobility. This is the objective that was illustrated, at the Multimedia Room of the Physics Department of the University of Bari, during the opening conference of the SOFTMOVE project, co-funded by the Interreg IPA South Adriatic Programme 2021-2027.       

The event, entitled ‘U-Space and UAS: Challenges and Opportunities in the IPA Area’, was attended by a large audience of experts, professionals, industrial stakeholders, public administration representatives, students and researchers from the IPA area (Italy-Albania-Montenegro) and beyond.

During the working sessions, the various speakers explored the impact of U-space and UAS solutions and the opportunities offered by innovative air and space services. The project was presented by the partners: the Aerospace Technology District (DTA), which is the lead partner; the Montenegrin startup incubator NVU Digital Den; and the Albanian State Authority for Geospatial Information ASIG.  The speakers gave an overview of current initiatives and the expected impact of SOFTMOVE project activities.

Special attention was paid by DTA to the role of the Grottaglie Airport Test Bed research and testing infrastructure and the ESA Business Incubation Centre Brindisi startup incubator in the development of the drone industry in the region.  Testimonials from academic and industry representatives provided valuable insights into the practical applications of drones and innovative aerial services, promoting collaboration between different sectors and countries.

SOFTMOVE aims to build transnational collaborative relationships and partnerships that promote the use of drones, with a focus on the operations and implementation of innovative aerial services and the use of space services, so that it can respond to the needs of citizens in the future smart cities of the IPA area. Knowledge and capacity building is crucial to improve the skills of the South Adriatic area in the use of drone technologies and propose solutions to the problems of smart cities. The development of know-how on Unmanned Aerial Systems will be able to generate a positive economic impact on the local industry, thanks to the active participation of start-ups and SMEs that will be able to pool interdisciplinary technologies and skills.

The conference laid the foundation for a feasibility model for the future delivery of Innovative Air Services in the IPA area, supporting SMEs in the competitive UAS landscape and fostering smart city entrepreneurial initiatives. The success of the event marks an important first step for the SOFTMOVE project, strengthening the local and international network towards a sustainable and innovative industry, and is proposed as a valuable factor for the development and attraction of further collaborations between Puglia, Albania and Montenegro.

The president of Dta, Giuseppe Acierno, emphasises that ‘Softmove will favour the consolidation of the collaboration started a few years ago with Albanian and Montenegrin partners.  We are happy to be able to collaborate and transfer advanced technologies in areas whose commercial and cultural ties with Apulia and Italy have deep roots. Building on these foundations, we can build opportunities for consolidation and development in new forms of air mobility’.