Clusters, competition and innovation
in the Basque Country

The Basque Country is a land of pioneers, conducive to the development of innovative start-ups. Numerous businesses in diverse sectors have made a name for themselves here, including Dassault in the aeronautics sector, Coriolis robotics developed at the Compositadour technical center, and the Arkinova technology hub dedicated to sustainable construction and development.

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Clusters in the basque country

Clusters consist of companies from the same sector that are grouped together geographically in order to advance their development towards a common goal. Competitiveness clusters also bring together companies from the same sector, but include other types of players who can contribute to the sector’s competitiveness, such as research and development laboratories or training establishments etc.

According to France Clusters, there are over 300 clusters in France, bringing together a total of over 80,000 companies and 2 million employees. Clusters are a real asset to a company’s development and there are seven well-established in the Basque Country in a variety of sectors:

Aerospace Valley / Aerospace. This is Europe’s leading competitiveness cluster and job pool in the aerospace sector (aeronautics, space and drones), bringing together the Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie/ Pyrénées-Méditerranée regions.

EuroSIMA / Boardsports: The EuroSIMA boardsports cluster was created in 2005. Since 2008, it has been run by the EuroSIMA association. Its aim is to connect private and public players and contribute to the promotion and development of the boardsports industry in the New Aquitaine region.

Goazen / Tourism. Created in 2008, this cluster now brings together more than 580 companies (catering, leisure, tourist accommodation, tour operators, museums, transport and reception operators). Its mission is to help convey collective messages and objectives to institutional decision-makers, helping to define tourism strategies.

Uztartu / Agrifood. Since its creation in 2010, Uztartu has worked to set up collaborative projects within the agrifood sector in the Basque Country.

ALLIS-NA / Health. Formed in 2020, ALLIS-NA aims to drive innovation in the healthcare sector, strengthen the competitiveness of local companies and highlight the attractiveness of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. It also works to strengthen the regional healthcare ecosystem as a whole.

Odéys / Construction. The sustainable Nouvelle-Aquitaine construction and development cluster Odéys was formed from the merger of Pôle CREAHd (2006) and Cluster Eco-Habitat (2008). It has five locations throughout the region (Anglet, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Limoges, Poitiers), and favors local work.

Pays Basque Digital / Digital: Aiming to unite and support all types of companies from across the sector, Pays Basque Digital helps with development and continuous improvement processes. Bringing together over 60 companies, the cluster is home to AI (artificial intelligence) start-ups, pure players, web agencies, digital services companies and software publishers. Together, the cluster’s companies account for over 1,500 jobs.

Innovation and R&D clusters in the basque country

Innovation and R&D in the green economy

The green and circular economy is one of the most dynamic sectors for innovation. Research can be adapted to different sectors, from waste management to energy. Studies and experiments focus on

  • energy production (methanization, marine energy)
  • energy savings (eco-design, eco-construction)
  • limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

For example, a research platform, Energea, is working on renewable energies (optimization of power grids). The public interest group Littoral Aquitain has carried out a study of the coastline, its erosion and its resources. This study serves as a basis for companies wishing to develop innovative marine energy projects.

The Technopolitan Arkinova site, with its Nobatek technological resource center, is also entirely dedicated to eco-construction research. Engineers and other specialists in sustainable development and construction bring their know-how to energy-conscious companies. Their mission is to integrate environmental criteria into real estate projects and the design of building materials and processes.

Innovation and R&D in robotics

In the Basque Country, two centers are actively involved in robotics research:

  • Compositadour, a technical center located at Technocité, dedicated to research into composite materials. An example of an innovation developed at Compositadour is the Coriolis robot. There are 6 Coriolis robots working on fiber placement around the world. The latest research focuses on the use of natural fibers – flax, hemp, bamboo – as an alternative to carbon fiber.
  • ESTIA is an engineering school located on the Izarbel technology park. It includes a robotics platform where several innovation projects are carried out.

Innovation and R&D in aeronautics

From the Wright brothers and Dassault to Latécoère, the Basque Country has a strong history with aeronautics. The area has become a global center of excellence in composite materials, with technical centers such as the Compositadour dedicated to research into these materials. Its close R&D collaboration with Dassault has led to a number of aeronautical innovations.

Your sector of activity in the Basque Country