Open call for drone-as-a-service pilot programme – agile pilots

Artikkelikuva: Open call for drone-as-a-service pilot programme –  agile pilots

We are now looking for solutions that make use of drones in reducing emissions. Pilots provide the companies with a possibility to test their new solutions and receive references. The call for tenders is open until 22 August 2021.

In autumn 2021, Forum Virium Helsinki will start a pilot project related to the use of drones. The pilot is a part of the Carbon Neutral Drone Service Solutions in Southern Finland project funded by the ERDF. For its part, it responds to the need to reduce urban traffic running on combustion engines, as it improves the business opportunities related to drones, which are more energy-efficient than other modes of transport. The project will also strengthen and increase interest in the broader applications of drone services.

Within the framework of the project, Forum Virium Helsinki is organising the Drone-as-a-service piloting programme as an ‘agile piloting programme’. This Drone-as-a-service piloting programme seeks to create a new understanding of future drone service solutions by experimenting with new innovations and evaluating the business opportunities and performance potential of these pilot projects more broadly. The objective is to find solutions that can be used to reduce CO2 emissions.

Subject of the call for tenders

The call for tenders focuses on drone-as-a-service pilot projects that advance solutions supporting carbon neutrality through unmanned aircraft. The pilot projects will be targeted at key locations from the perspective of reducing emissions.

Challenges for which the pilot projects could provide solutions include the following:

  • exceptional situations in traffic management and dissolution of peak traffic congestion
  • air quality monitoring
  • considerably speeding up imaging carried out while walking or from a car
  • imaging of green areas and street areas
  • responding to various dangerous situations and environmental damage in the context of climate change adaptation.

Other ideas for achieving emission reductions are also welcome.

The call for tenders and submitting a tender

Forum Virium Helsinki is currently holding an open call for tenders seeking one or several drone pilot projects.

The pilot projects will be implemented as agile pilots with a maximum total price of €15,000 (VAT 0%). One or several service providers may be selected through the call for tenders.

The tender must include the total price of the pilot project, a description of the content of the service, a breakdown of the costs and the equipment with which the pilot project is to be carried out. Forum Virium Helsinki will not commit to paying expenses or costs outside of the tender (such as accommodation or travel expenses). The service provider will implement all stages of the pilot project and be responsible for the implementation, costs, insurance and permits related to it. The operator selected for the pilot will be liable for compensating for any damage to themselves or others. For the sake of clarity, the service price agreed upon in the procurement contract concerning the pilot will cover the service pilot and its expenses and costs in their entirety, and Forum Virium Helsinki is not obliged to cover any of the service provider’s invoices, costs or expenses that exceed the service price agreed upon.

The operator(s) selected for the pilot will be liable for any damage caused to themselves, Forum Virium Helsinki and other third parties in connection with this pilot.

The call for tenders is open to companies and other operators that have a business ID. Tenders for pilot projects can also be submitted collectively by two or more operators. The service provider must be a registered drone operator.

The operators selected must provide, upon request, certificates and statements of taxes paid and pension insurance premiums and any necessary insurance policies in accordance with the Act on the Contractor’s Obligations and Liability when Work is Contracted Out.

Any business secrets must be marked in the tender.

The procurement of the test flight pilot requires that the drone companies providing the service have a safety programme system and prerequisites for safe operations, as well as previous evidence of drone flights. The operators selected for the pilot projects must draw up a safety plan for the test flights, taking into account the operation’s level of risk (incl. Specific Operations Risk Assessment, if necessary). The service providers’ prerequisites for safe flight operations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as part of the procurement. The service provider’s insurance must cover the test flights. The service provider selected will also be responsible for applying for and obtaining the permits necessary for the test flights.

The call for tenders is searching for a pilot project/projects that can be put into practice during the piloting period at a separately agreed time in September–October 2021, but within the limits allowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. If, for example, the Government imposes a curfew that would be in force at the time, the pilot project may be cancelled completely.

Forum Virium Helsinki reserves the right to carry out or authorise a third party to carry out safety, feasibility and impact assessments of the pilot project.

The call for tenders ends on Sunday 22 August 2021 at 23:59 Finnish time. Tenders can be submitted using the form below in either Finnish or English. Tenders that are submitted late will not be taken into consideration.

The tender form has been closed.

This is a pilot project from which we can gain lessons for shared benefit. As such, the data and lessons learned from the pilot project will be shared openly with all interested parties.

The parties that have submitted a tender will be notified of the outcome of the selection in August.

Answers to written questions

  • The tenderer can suggest a suitable theme for the pilot. We hope the tenderer can present how the piloted service could reduce CO2 emissions.
  • The exact dates for the pilot will be agreed with the service provider. However, the drone flights need to be carried out during autumn 2021.
  • Companies outside Finland can also submit a tender to the open call.

Selection and evaluation criteria

The Forum Virium Helsinki expert jury will evaluate the tenders submitted by the deadline.

The pilot projects offered will be evaluated based on the following criteria: 1) novelty and innovativeness, 2) feasibility and 3) impact. Tenders will be scored in accordance with the criteria described below.

Each evaluation criterion is scored on a scale of 0–4 points. The maximum score that a tender can receive is 12 points.


0 p. minimum requirement not met
1 p. minimum requirement met
2 p. requirement met
3 p. requirement met well
4 p. requirement met excellently


Novelty and innovativeness (0–4 p.)

  • The pilot project offers innovative solutions that make it possible to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • The service or product has genuine novelty value and is innovative.
  • The pilot project introduces new kinds of practices, solutions and perspectives into the use of drones.

Feasibility (0–4 p.)

  • The tenderer demonstrates that they have sufficient competence and resources to carry out the pilot project. Evidence of previous professional activity must be provided with references.
  • The description of measures, timetables and resources shows that the pilot project can be carried out in a high-quality and safe manner, within the agreed timeframe.

Impact (0–4 p.)

  • Scaling the service (or product) can create concrete reductions in CO2 emissions.
  • The intended impact of the pilot project and the method to verify the impact are described clearly.
  • The solution can be scaled to be applied to other environments and with other partners.
  • The solution makes it possible to create new business and reduce emissions.

The expert jury reserves the right not to select any service provider.

The procurement decision is made based on a separate decision issued by Forum Virium Helsinki. A contract with the service provider(s) selected for the pilot project is only established upon the signing of a separate contract.

Information about agile piloting

Agile piloting is an agile, challenge-based model for experimenting with new services and technologies in a real-world urban environment with real end users – be they residents, units of different City divisions or companies forming part of the Helsinki Group. Agile pilots respond to real, identified challenges.

Objectives of agile piloting

Co-creation is an essential part of agile piloting. The solutions are developed together with the City, companies, residents, research partners and other stakeholders. The objective is to learn and share the results widely with different operators and networks. The key partners and channels are identified on a case-by-case basis.

For the City and other City operators, it is crucial to gather lessons learnt and results about the feasibility of new technologies and services in relation to the challenges identified and the development of activities in general. Agile piloting primarily aims to create and share new knowledge and understanding, not to result in subsequent procurements or customership with the City.

For companies, agile pilots provide an opportunity to trial new solutions in a real-world urban environment with real residents – thus offering a reference of the service or product being piloted.

What does Forum Virium Helsinki offer?

Forum Virium Helsinki supports companies during the piloting. The company receives support in the practical implementation of the pilots, finding test users, planning and coordination, administrative matters and permits, documentation and communication as needed. Forum Virium Helsinki supports cooperation with the key operators mentioned above.

The ‘Carbon Neutral Drone Service Solutions in Southern Finland’ project is piloting and promoting carbon neutral drone services. At the same time, the project also seeks to develop new business models for the needs of various industries. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Photo: RedStone Aero




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