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Unmanned Valley – the field lab for sensor-based technologies located at the former Valkenburg naval air base in Katwijk, the Netherlands – welcomes the first companies, all active in the field of aerospace, drones and sensors. This represents an important step towards the development of a fully-fledged ecosystem for drones and other sensor-based innovations, and further strengthens the aerospace sector in the Netherlands.

Aerialtronics, Deck180, Drone Flight Company, Dutch Drone Academy, Elkay International (Europe) and Marshall Netherlands are the first companies to have already moved in. Within a few months, Atmos, Drone Light Labs and Mapture.ai will also relocate (parts of) their activities to the field lab, which offers in- and outdoor facilities for companies and knowledge institutes to develop, test and implement new sensor-based solutions.

The move of these companies marks the very successful 3000m2 redevelopment of the former naval air base’s workshop ‘Building 356’, which is now almost fully rented out. In a next phase, the Central Government Real Estate Agency (‘Rijksvastgoedbedrijf’) is expected to redevelop an additional 1700m2 of space to accommodate a mix of startups and scale-ups, mature companies and knowledge institutions.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in testing activities over the past months, but with the relocation of these first companies, Unmanned Valley really comes to life”, says Theo de Vries, program manager at Unmanned Valley. “Drones often only make headlines as a threat to air traffic or as a pizza delivery service. These companies show that things are different in reality and that the economic and social potential for the Netherlands can be enormous.”

De Vries speaks very highly of the Central Government Real Estate Agency: “During the COVID-19 crisis, the agency has kept up a brisk pace with the renovation and transformation work. It has now become a hotspot for collaboration, cross-fertilization and innovation, which inspired start-ups, scale-ups and others to such an extent that we have rented out about 90% of all available units well before the official completion date in July. The next phase can now be developed much earlier than anticipated.”

“Unmanned Valley has all the potential to develop into an international hotspot for unmanned and sensor-related activities. Innovative companies are looking for a well-developed ecosystem, not just a suitable office location. They want access to the right networks, technologies and talent”, says Rinke Zonneveld, director of the regional economic development agency InnovationQuarter. “The Netherlands and in particular the greater Rotterdam-The Hague area, enjoys an excellent reputation within the global aerospace industry. The aviation, space and drone sectors in our region are closely linked and all relevant players in education, research and commerce are actively working together in this highly developed metropolitan area.”

In addition to the Dutch start-ups and scale-ups that moved to Unmanned Valley, it indeed appears that the location also has international appeal; several foreign companies have relocated their activities to Katwijk, a coastal town located 16 kilometers north of The Hague.

The companies that are the first to establish themselves in Unmanned Valley

  • Aerialtronics DV, since 2017 part of French company Drone Volt, develops drones and intelligent cameras for numerous applications; for surveying and supporting the fire brigade to inspection of wind turbines and high voltage powerlines. Recently Aerialtronics also developed software to check via existing networks of IP cameras whether people are wearing face masks.
  • Atmos, was founded in 2013 and has developed a drone that combines the flexibility of a helicopter with the speed and range of an aircraft. As a result, it requires little space to take off and land vertically, but the drone can also efficiently cover long distances, properties that are essential for mapping larger areas. The company raised funding from Disruptive Technology Ventures in 2018 and 2020.
  • Deck180 has been developing solutions since 2017 to enable multiple drones to operate autonomously in industrial and public environments at the same time.
  • Drone Flight Company is the market leader in the use of drones for the business market and assists organizations in the integration of drones in their business activities. The company’s training branch, Drone Flight Academy, is recognized by the Dutch government as a flight school and develops and provides training, education and workshops aimed at safe and responsible flying with drones.
  • Drone Light Labs, founded in 2017, produces among other things the world-famous performance art installation Franchise Freedom for Studio Drift. The artwork consists of autonomously flying swarm of hundreds of drones, which uses a specially developed algorithm based on the flight behavior of starlings. One of the essential parts of the artwork: ‘swarm intelligence’.
  • Dutch Drone Academy has been developing and providing training and teaching materials around the theme of unmanned aviation since 2013. In addition to the certification of professional drone pilots, the company supports secondary vocational education in training students to become European drone pilots.
  • Elkay International (Europe) exports electronic components and systems from Europe to companies in the Indian telecommunications, defense, space and aviation industry.
  • Mapture.ai is a start-up founded in 2018 that is developing an autonomously operating ‘drone in a box’ system. The system is aimed to be used in a wide range of applications such as monitoring industrial installations, securing business parks and deployment during emergency situations.
  • Marshall Netherlands is part of the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (Cambridge, UK) – one of the largest independent technology companies in Europe. The company specializes in, among other things, design, production and maintenance of defence shelter system, and the conversion, modification and maintenance of military and civil aircraft. Marshall has been supporting the Royal Netherlands Air Force for more than 20 years and at the end of 2018 the company won a contract for the supply and maintenance of 1,400 shelter systems for the Dutch armed forces.

Fast growing industry

In many sectors, drone and related technologies already ensure that work can be done faster, better, safer and more efficiently. Due to the further development and integration of robotization, artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning and the Internet of Things, the number of useful applications is growing rapidly.

Market analysts from Drone Industry Insights expect the global drone market to grow to $ 42.8 billion by 2025. This is almost double its current size in 2020 ($ 22.5 billion). The European market is also almost doubling; from $ 5.19 billion now to $ 9.86 billion by 2025.

Unmanned Valley is an initiative of Delft University of Technology and the municipality of Katwijk – made possible by the Dutch central and regional government as well as the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – and will develop into a breeding ground for high-tech activities.

Wat kunnen wij voor u betekenen?

Neem gerust contact met ons op.

Niels Krol

Senior Investor Relations Manager / Senior Account Manager Aerospace
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Over 80% of all space activities in the Netherlands take place in the province of Zuid-Holland. For this reason, InnovationQuarter presented the Noordwijk-Leiden-Delft-The Hague region as Space Cluster Holland during the Space Tech Expo in Bremen from 19 to 21 November 2019.

A number of distinct space activities from the region were highlighted in the booth: Space Campus Noordwijk was presented by the new director Esther Peters, Rahul Shirke explained the extremely heat-resistant composite material of Delft-based start-up ARCEON, and the Delft university student team of ‘VSV Leonardo da Vinci‘ promoted their Cubesat project, intended for educational purposes.

The regions of Bremen and Zuid-Holland launched a Joint Action Agenda which strengthens cooperation between the space ecosystems in both areas. It defines common challenges and themes on which the regions shall focus in the coming years. Subsequently, during round table discussions between German and Dutch companies and institutes, topics of mutual interest like lightweight materials & structures  and the use of VR/AR in space engineering, were discussed.

Representatives from the Province of Zuid-Holland, Space Campus Noordwijk, ATG Europe, ARCEON and InnovationQuarter at the Space Cluster Holland booth

The presence of many regional exhibitors, such as Airbus, Airborne, ISISpace, Celestia STS, Hyperion, MetaSensing, TNO and the student rocket team DARE (Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering) shows that the space cluster in Zuid-Holland plays a prominent role in the international space industry. Many of them were also speakers during various workshops, including other representatives from the region like GTM, SkyGeo and Dawn Aerospace.

At the Space Cluster Holland booth visitors were welcomed to take a photo of themselves on the moon. In front of a green screen and by using the self-service camera of Rotterdam-based start-up BLNDR, over 500 visitors flew to the moon to take their picture. Some of them even managed to plant the Dutch flag!

Bert Klarus (Business Development) en Niels Krol (Foreign Investments) van InnovationQuarter

Due to this year’s great success, the exhibition organization has decided to organize Space Tech Expo in Bremen annually, instead of every two years. In addition, a NL Space pavilion will be organized in 2020, in which the Dutch, and mostly Zuid-Holland-based, space industry can promote themselves jointly to the international space community. Brochure 10 Reasons Space.

Interested in collaborating with or joining the space cluster in our region?

Get in touch to discuss opportunities in the greater Rotterdam - The Hague region.

Niels Krol

Senior Investor Relations Manager / Senior Account Manager Aerospace
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To strengthen cooperation between the space sector in the regions of Bremen and Zuid-Holland, SpaceNed, Province of Zuid-Holland, Aviaspace Bremen and the state of Bremen launched an action agenda at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen. They were supported in the preparation of the action agenda by InnovationQuarter and Bremen Invest. The action agenda stems from agreements made during the space mission to Bremen in March 2019, in the presence of the King and Queen.

Enhanced international cooperation

The Zuid-Holland and Bremen regions both have a strong space sector. Better cooperation between the regions is favourable for the innovation climate and the economic strength of space companies. The action agenda contains agreements on cooperation actions until 2023, aimed at the described mutual challenges for the space sector. Agreements include a trade mission from Bremen to Zuid-Holland in 2020, joint Research & Development projects and strengthening of business and research relationships. Thematically, the cooperation focuses on, among other things, earth observation, lightweight materials and VR / AR in space applications.

The action agenda was presented by Hans-Georg Tschupke (Director of the Department of Innovation and Industry at the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Bremen) and Wiebe Brandsma (Director of Economy and Society at the Province of Zuid-Holland) together with Jeroen Rotteveel and Holger Oelze (the chairmen of SpaceNed and Aviaspace, respectively).

Jeroen Rotteveel: “A good neighbour is better than a distant friend; [Dutch proverb] that is why it is so logical to strengthen the ties with Bremen”. Hans-Georg Schupke adds: “This Action Agenda was not established because the governments are so keen; there are common interests and there is enthusiasm among companies and knowledge institutions for cooperation. ”

Companies and knowledge institutions from Zuid-Holland and Bremen immediately got to work at the Space Tech Expo in two round table discussions to further explore and work out collaborative activities. Then there was room for mutual acquaintance between companies themselves or with knowledge institutions during the matchmaking Meet the Dutch. And while enjoying ‘stroopwafels’ from Zuid-Holland and drinks, there was plenty of room for networking.

In the pavilion that was organized by InnovationQuarter, there was a lot of visitors and good contacts with international businesses. In addition, there was plenty of room for relaxed conversations around the “green screen” photo device that was set up on the stand. InnovationQuarter supports the province of Zuid-Holland in the compilation and implementation of the action agenda.

Bert Klarus

Senior Business Developer Aerospace
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WestHolland launched as composites hotspot during JEC World in Paris

Dutch composites industry

The unique ecosystem for composites & new materials in West Holland was presented in the Holland Pavilion of industry association CompositesNL. Besides the academic knowledge & research, application development and original equipment manufacturers present in our region, special attention was given to SAM XL.

Fieldlab SAM XL

The Smart Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) XL fieldlab will open in 2019 and serves as a research and testing facility for automated composite technology solutions; like the automated manufacturing of thin-walled aerospace structures or thick-walled structures for wind turbine blades and bridge decks. Partners in this fieldlab, like TU Delft, GTM Advanced Structures, Fokker/GKN Aerospace and KVE Composites were also present at the fair. And with showcases from Inholland and Airborne Composites, the West Holland ecosystem was strongly represented.


Here are 10 reasons Why West Holland is the hotspot for composites. Download the infographic via this link or request a hardcopy via communicatie@innovationquarter.nl.

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InnovationQuarter participated in the ‘Holland Pavilion’ during the Paris Air Show.

Holland Pavilion at Paris Air Show

Organizer of the Dutch stand was the Netherlands Aerospace Group (NAG), a trade association that supports the Dutch Aerospace and Airport Development sector. Suppliers to the aerospace sector, like Airborne Composites from The Hague, were present in the pavilion as well as some dominant aerospace regions in The Netherlands. These regions focus predominantly on Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) of aircraft, whereas the West Holland region has a strong emphasis on Research & Development, Design & Engineering and Manufacturing.

InnovationQuarter participated in the ‘Holland Pavilion’ during the Paris Air Show.

Dutch aerospace sector

Therefore, the West Holland region offers added value to the Dutch aerospace sector and is now part of the five most dominant aerospace regions in The Netherlands. More information is available in the brochure that was developed for the Paris Air Show, in which the 5 regions present their own distinctive strengths. If you would like to know more about the Aerospace sector in West Holland please have a look at this infographic with our 10 reasons to invest in this region.