5 Years since the establishment of IONOS

In 2019 IONOS was founded in Heraklion, Crete. It was and remains to this day, the pioneering Greek start-up company with exclusive expertise in precision agricultural applications with drones. In the same year it was approved with the first UAS Specific Category Operations license for Aerial Spraying by the Ministry of Agriculture. In order to improve its skills, IONOS proceeded methodically to conquer the knowledge around the safe and effective use of UAS in the agricultural field, wanting to expand its experience with experimental operations. The multiscopes chosen to accompany the team on its operations were those of TT Aviation (https://www.ttaviation.org/), the largest Unmanned Aircraft Systems operator training organization in China. TTA is the organization that made the commercial use of drones in agriculture a reality, producing the world’s first globally produced agricultural spraying multi-copter in 2009. IONOS is the company’s representative in the EU.

In 2020, it was approved with the first grant of experimental licences for research purposes with Plant Protection Product in aerial spraying operations in the EU by the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food for olive cultivation, where it created the EXARCHOS project. This was followed by experimental lending of PPP for more crops, in collaboration with major companies in the field of agriculture such as ELANKO HELLAS, GOWAN, BASF, BIOINSECTA etc.

IONOS from 2021 is an entity that can provide theoretical and practical training in the operation of agricultural drones, with certified instructors in Crete, Peloponnese, Athens and Thessaloniki, with over 3000 hours of flight experience.

In 2021, IONOS entered the Greek Ecosystem of Start-ups aiming to strengthen, develop and extrovert the business. At the same time, the company developed a strong research network within Greece by collaborating with universities such as the University of Thessaly, the Hellenic Mediterranean University, ELGO Demetra and the Foundation for Research & Technology – Hellas. However, her great love for the science of precision agriculture made her cross the borders where she acquired collaborators in Belgium, Lithuania, Spain and Bulgaria.

In 2022, IONOS , acquiring the UAS Specific Operations Risk Assessment Category (Aerial Spraying) according to EASA, being the only entity in Greece and a pioneer in the EU with this particular flight operation. SORA is a quantitative risk assessment methodology, has been developed internationally with the consensus of many National Aviation Authorities and industry experts, setting an acceptable level of safety for proposed operations in the specific operations category. IONOS has essentially succeeded in bringing “prohibited” aerial spraying operations up to this point, into institutional offices and into the everyday conversation of producers, through a valid safety and operational effectiveness perspective. The debate on the benefits and actions of drones had officially opened up.

Over the course of all these years, it has played a key role in research projects such as ACT PHAST – Measurement of airborne droplet transport (drift) during agricultural drone spraying operations, EXARCHOS – Pilot application of bait spraying against olive blight with UAS, IONEL – Evaluation of the effectiveness of drone herbicide applications in rice, as well as developed innovation technology for precision agriculture.

In 2023, it started formal software testing, for safe and effective Management of UAS in Precision Agriculture Operations. Today this project has reached a final stage, ready to serve requests from farmers to use Agri Drones. All these achievements have created a dynamic background, full of knowledge that IONOS relies on to conquer even more in the field of science and agriculture.

IONOS in 2024 moved to the Science and Technology Park of Crete (ETEP-Crete; https://www.stepc.gr) established in 1993 by the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH), where they are important structures for the promotion of research, innovation and entrepreneurship. The IONOS team, now officially integrated at the forefront of the European innovation ecosystem, is ready to leverage its research, operational and educational experience by discovering and shaping new horizons and practices in agricultural technology.