AED Cluster Portugal reinforces importance of Technological Free Zones initiative

17 March 2021

With a Position Paper elaborated by the management with contribution form various members, AED shows the importance of this initiative to the ASD industries.

Within the scope of the recognition, by the Portuguese Government, of the importance of regulating Technological Free Zones, AED Cluster Portugal prepared a Position Paper entitled “Contribution to the Regulatory Perspective of Technological Free Zones” where it welcomes this initiative, which allows to proper leverage of legal and innovation frameworks for the quick development of national solutions, in strategic markets identified by the Cluster.

This addresses the importance of Technological Free Zones in the development of collaborative national ecosystems of test platforms in real environments, which should include national authorities, infrastructure providers, manufacturers and users, facilitating the experimentation of new technologies in a real and controlled environment.

The Free Technology Zones initiative is undoubtedly one of the missing pieces of the puzzle for the ASD sectors in Portugal. These Zones will allow to properly leverage local implementation on a large scale, attract value chains to Portugal and export competitive products and services. As a cluster of the three industries, we want to help make this Free Technology Zones initiative a reality so that it efficiently meets the needs of the sectors, becoming an important driver for the creation of added value at national level. In this way, we congratulate this initiativev and emphasize our total availability to collaborate”, says Rui Santos, Managing Director of AED Cluster Portugal.

Thus, whether in terms of the growth of national actors or in attracting new international partners, AED Cluster Portugal considers this initiative to be crucial in three dimensions:


AERONAUTICS, in particular to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

  • Bearing in mind that the civilian UAV market, whether for passenger transport, cargo or applications for medical, security or infrastructure monitoring contexts, is on the rise with a global volume of around 5.5 billion USD, in 2019, there are still challenges in regulatory issues, management and integration in air (and terrestrial) spaces and in the perception and acceptance by the inhabitants.
  • However, there are currently around 110 cities and regions around the world that are already working on solutions in this emerging market, with an 11% increase expected with a turnover of around 10 billion USD in 2025. In this context, AED Cluster Portugal is currently dedicated to the development of skills and the creation of products and services for the passenger transport sector, mainly through the mobilization project FLY.PT, already underway.

SPACE, in particular for satellies applications (Downstream)

  • The space sector, increasingly recognized as one of the main economic, technological, geostrategic and human capital qualification drivers, has gained importance in the context of humanitarian aid, maritime policy and surveillance, agriculture, border surveillance, security, telecommunications and management transport infrastructure.
  • In the Downstream segment, which presents a perspective of the global valuation of the sector to 558 billion Euros already in 2026, Portugal has been multiplying in initiatives, start-ups and success stories, which brings with it a totally new dynamic to the sector.

DEFENCE, in particular for surveillance systems, cyberdefence and C4i

  • The Defence sector has been a focus of growing attention at European level, driven by the creation of a European Defence policy. With the approval of the European Defence Fund (EDF), of 7.95 billion Euros, the intention is to increase the strategic autonomy of the EU, strengthen its industrial position worldwide in this sector, and support cooperation in the area of Defence between the various EU countries, with the involvement of companies, research centers and universities.
  • Through the AED members, there is now an opportunity to enhance and develop their existing skills in the most diverse technological fields and enter these lucrative international value chains, with particular interest in surveillance systems based on autonomous platforms (UAVs, AUVs, USVs) and satellites, as well as in Cyberdefence and C4i.


The document (available only in Portuguese), already submitted via Public Consultation, was also delivered directly to members of the Government with the tutelage of the Digital Economy and Transition, Defense, Internal Administration, Education, Science and Technology and Infrastructure, as well as to various public departments, such as IAPMEI, AICEP, idD Portugal Defence, ANI or Portugal Space.

Now, the Cluster is creating a specific working group to further develop the theme, in order to follow the current legislation phase and contribute where possible by ensuring that the Aeronautics, Space and Defence sectors benefit from the implementation of the Technological Free Zones.

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