Space Academy


The educational institutions are working together towards a shared goal. This partnership is focused on testing, training and developing unmanned systems.

Within Space53, companies, knowledge institutes and the government are collaborating on the development of socially relevant unmanned systems. The educational institutions University of Twente, Saxion University of Applied Sciences and ROC van Twente are working together towards a shared goal. They are not only contributing to this ambition with the aid of vocational and higher education as well as applied and academic research, but the education institutions also complement each others’ services. 

This partnership is focused on testing, training and developing unmanned systems in the following fields of application: Safety & Security, Precision Agriculture, Industry, and Logistics. In this context, use is made of a broad spectrum of testing grounds and laboratories as well as all emergency services that are available on site at this first national testing location with an airport and safety campus. 

University of Twente

The University of Twente has high-profile research and educational programs in safety and security, in robotics, UAVs and aeronautics. These research programs are hosted across different groups at de University and researched from different perspectives and disciplines. The area of safety and security on the one hand, and robotics, aeronautics and UAVs on the other hand, is of strategic importance for UT. The combination of theoretical knowledge and experimental facilities within a safe environment is crucial in developing new insights that can be used by companies, industry, public authorities, NGOs and/or in the safety and security domain.

In this light, the increased availsbility and diversity of test facilities for UAvs alligns well with the stratefic plans of the UT. It enables step-wise testing and experimenting at various levels: using UT lab facilities (e.g. the Wind tunnel, the ThermoPlastic composites Research Center, Virtual Reality Lab, Design Lab, Robo Lab and Tech4People Lab), Twente Airport and Twente Safety Campus, UT Living Smart Campus with designated areas for micro-UAVs, and applications in designated areas and neighborhoods in the city of Enschede. The University of Twente sees Space53,  the UT Campus and Enschede city as a strategic triplet of increasing complexity for UAVs and robotics, on account of an increasing density of people.

The University of Twente intend to develop activities in the context of the UT Living Smart Campus program, which exploits the UT campus as a controlled living lab, for testing (micro-)UAVs within the regulatory boundaries. Activities carried out in collaboration with ROC van Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences can span research as well as education.


A permanent UCA research facility

The Platform Unmanned Cargo Aircraft (PUCA) of the University of Twente aims to stimulate the development of UCA by, amongst other things, conducting research that informs investment and operational decisions of prospective producers and users of UCA. Research covers, for example, business cases for UCA applications like cargo transport between China and Europe, the cost structure of UCA, the way in which UCA can fulfill the needs of shippers, and so on. The ambition is to establish a permanent UCA research facility in co-operation with Space53 and in this way to stimulate companies in the region to engage in the development, production and operation of UCA. This could bring high-quality economic activities to the region. For more information: case 'Unmanned Cargo Aircraft'.

Saxion University of Applied Science

A key component of the Saxion University of Applied Science research agenda is Living Technology. Their aim is the search for and the development of relevant applied technologies in co-creation with businesses and/or the public sector. This results in new and innovative concepts, services or products. Saxion has specific expertise for research on enabling technologies and applications for unmanned vehicles. Unmanned vehicles can be drones but actually any kind of robotics. An important goal is to develop the applications for detection, analysis and monitoring, in the field of safety, decurity and forensics as well as applications for agriculture.

Saxion had 7 areas of expertise:

  • Risk Management for risk analysis and management for safe handling of UV, governance, policies and regulations;
  • Advanced Forensic Technology with applications for detection and surveillance;
  • Ambient Intelligence for applying sensor technology and data analysis;
  • Industrial Design for functional and sustainable product design by state of the art technology;
  • Mechatronics for UV design and development inclusiding intelligent control- and navigation systems of UV;
  • Nanotechnology for the development of small sensors and chips;
  • Lightweight Constructing with the development of lightweight constructions for UV and enabling the mounting of sensors.

All 7 areas comprise research as well as educational programs.

In their academies and the Saxion Fablab (in the centre of Enschede) they work together with their partners. Space53 offers a unique possibility to extend their research and testinb of UV applications.

ROC van Twente

In conjunction with Space53, ROC van Twente is developing the Netherlands’ first-ever vocational drone training course (for MBO-level students). The course will be offered as an optional subject in the coming academic year. There are two possible tracks, one for drone technology (maintenance) and the other for drone usage (drone pilot).

Together with knowledge institutes from both within and outside the Netherlands, they are working to establish a centre of expertise for unmanned systems. This will gather together, further develop and disseminate all the available knowledge related to aspects such as technology, legislation, societal impact and business models.