National Drone Innovation Gateway


Drones are forecast to have a net impact of £42 billion on the UK economy by 2030. As a result, many drone innovators have rushed to fill the gaps of this lucrative emerging market and to find innovative solutions to novel Future Air Mobility (FAM) issues. There are currently almost 200 drone start-ups which have been established across the UK, whose innovation spans the open, specific and certified categories.


Due to the rapidity at which the industry has grown, there is a lack of collaboration and communication between organisations. Many drone innovators would benefit from further resources, connections and expertise to enable them to scale their operations locally, nationally and eventually, globally. For example, FAA Test Sites in the USA have acted as magnets to pull a lot of resources together.

Many organisations offer a single drone product in isolation of an ecosystem that requires hardware, software, operational safety cases, and high calibre pilots. This means each organisation is looking to source the best fit without necessarily having a foundation of industry insight and knowledge.

Innovators need to know where to go and who to talk to, to build a consortium that can help with these areas. There is also a need to build a repeatable holistic safety assessment, conduct meaningful trials at pace, access academic research, analyse prototype data and interface with the regulator.


With our partners Cranfield University and Neuron Innovations, we have launched the National Drone Innovation Gateway (NDIG), whose aim is to provide end-to-end support to the drone ecosystem in the UK, and beyond. NDIG has the resources, experience, connections and industry awareness to facilitate the scaling of drone operations and can guide operators through this process at any stage of their journey. This partnership, complemented by our strong relationships with regulators and wider industry, offers innovators a single point to access multiple resources to plan, prototype, test, certify and then launch, at scale, solutions that will accelerate the development of uncrewed systems and their integration into a shared airspace.


Industry is offered a gateway, which can help organisations in their inward and outward development. In addition to being an incubator or accelerator, the gateway is also a facilitator for partnerships and business opportunities thereafter.  We help to accelerate the development and productive use of uncrewed systems across a range of industries and government initiatives. We offer start-ups, SMEs, manufacturers, operators, and integrators the ability to:

  • Design, develop, test, and operate their solution, following an innovation process that improves success rates for products and services.
  • Gain access to office space, workshops, and event facilities to help them grow, market and successfully develop their ideas / projects.
  • Benefit from our specialist regulatory, engineering, safety and operational knowledge, alongside the research expertise, resources and technical innovations of our partners.
  • Connect and partner with suitable stakeholders that can add value, unlock opportunities, and improve their product offering, e.g., Cranfield Airport, Bettany Centre, Cranfield academic experts, potential investor/finance/funding partners.