Urban air operations

Funding is not the ultimate solution. Leading in terms of regulation helps us more

Thursday, 21 March 2024

In conversation with Patrique Zaman, founder of AVY, a frontrunner in Dutch drone development, we delve deeper into the challenges and opportunities that this technology brings, and how AVY positions itself in this dynamic landscape. Zaman simultaneously casts an eye to the future.

Zaman starts the conversation with a reflection on the general speed of innovation within the drone industry, noting that certain processes and adoptions, in his opinion, proceed far too slowly. Especially in the field of life-saving operations and emergency services, he sees considerable potential for drones, a potential that is not fully utilized due to slow adoption. "Every delay has a direct negative impact on the societal benefit of drones," Zaman states.

A prominent challenge is the implementation of regulation. Zaman believes that the regulation itself is clear, but its implementation, especially in the Netherlands, leaves much to be desired due to a lack of courage and decisiveness within the bureaucracy. "People are afraid to make mistakes and therefore decide nothing. But as AVY, we also need to take a critical look at ourselves. We were quite outspoken when we started. But developing stable, operational products that are reliable 24/7 with low maintenance is really significantly more difficult than building a prototype. The latter is really peanuts, I know now." Zaman also sees that the predicted large rollout of drones in society somewhat stalls because many developments take place out of sight of many people. "As soon as you see drones flying around here in Amsterdam every day, it will really start to live, and then the development will accelerate again," he predicts.

Valuable insights

While Zaman acknowledges the limitations within the Dutch and European market, including challenges around funding and regulation, he simultaneously emphasizes the opportunities that working internationally offers. AVY has broadened its view to markets outside Europe, such as Africa, where the company undertakes projects for medical deliveries and anti-poaching. "These international experiences provide valuable insights and contribute to the robustness of their operations and technological development," Zaman states.

Zaman is actively involved in discussions about the regulation within the lower airspace and advocates for much more transparency and safety. He emphasizes the need for cooperation between the drone industry and traditional aviation to achieve a safe and efficient integration of drones into the airspace.

Finally, Zaman shares AVY's vision for the future, including setting up networks for drones that can be on location within minutes for emergency services, an ambition that is already partially becoming a reality with a project around the Port of Rotterdam. He also talks about the development of new models that can carry heavier loads and stay in the air longer, enabling new applications.


It raises the question of why AVY has chosen to stay in the Netherlands. Has the company not outgrown the Netherlands by now? Zamen: "I have certainly considered moving to regions where capital flows abundantly and the opportunity to scale quickly is evident. However, against this temptation stand the stable foundations of the European business climate. Though perhaps less flamboyant, it offers a certain stability that deters hasty investors and the too-quick 'pulling of plugs.' In the US, you might easily raise a hundred million, but if investments do not yield returns quickly enough, you can just as quickly find yourself sidelined. We have seen that prominent parties who managed to gather significant amounts ultimately failed. This illustrates that massive financing is not always the key to success. Another advantage of the Netherlands, and by extension Europe, is the smooth connection with the rest of the world and a regulatory framework that is easily exportable. Thanks to European regulation, which offers uniformity, we do not need to obtain separate permissions for each country. Since December, we can approve our own authorizations throughout Europe and some other countries. Moreover, our international team, which appreciates the diverse charms of Amsterdam, is effortlessly drawn to the Netherlands. This all underscores why we stay here and continue to develop within this favorable climate.”

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