The economic fabric of France and the Basque Country: an opportunity for your company

Investing in the Basque Country means, first and foremost, investing in France. As a country with signs of growth and increasing foreign investment, it offers the ideal environment for developing and growing a business.

Contact us

State of business creation and employment in France

As of 2023, France is the world’s 7th largest economy and Europe’s 3rd largest after Germany and the UK, attracting numerous investors and companies to set up operations or develop innovative concepts. France is a benchmark country in a number of sectors, and has an international reputation thanks to its world-renowned companies.

Whether in the automotive, agri-food, retail, fashion, luxury goods, cosmetics, aerospace, electronics, aeronautics or crafts sectors, there are numerous opportunities for foreign companies wishing to build a start-up in France. Success stories such as Dassault Aviation (based on the Basque coast), Airbus and Safran (whose subsidiary Safran Helicopter Engines is based in Tarnos), have placed the country at the international forefront of the aerospace sector. France is also very dynamic in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The Basque Country alone boasts several renowned agri-food sectors, including meat, dairy, confectionery and fish.

2021 saw a record 17% increase in business start-ups compared to 2020. The most recent INSEE research from 2022 marks another new record, this time with 1,071,881 business registrations (BPI / INSEE) –  2.1% from 2021. Is this a consequence of the health crisis, or of economic dynamism and new work trends? Whatever the case, France is a breeding ground for startups and entrepreneurs looking to boost the French economy and create jobs. In the 10 years between 2012 and 2022, the number of business start-ups has risen by 88%, providing ample proof of the attractiveness of France and its territories for entrepreneurs.

While micro-businesses were the most popular type of business for entrepreneurs in 2021 (+17% vs 2020), larger company set-ups are now growing the most, with a recent increase of 4.8%, compared with +2.8% for micro-businesses.

This upward trend in business start-ups in France is visible in all regions. Nouvelle Aquitaine saw 89,662 new businesses created in 2022 (+0.7% vs. 2021), ranking 5th among the most dynamic French regions in terms of business start-ups. In our home region of Pyrénées-Atlantique (64), 10,742 new businesses were created in 2022, representing a growth rate of +6.7% in 10 years!

The average age of new entrepreneurs in France is 35, compared with 36 in 2020, and 38 in 2010! Entrepreneurship is attracting more and more young people who are looking for a new way of working.

Data also shows that 41% of French entrepreneurs are women.

It is worth noting, too, that in France, the administrative formalities for setting up a business are relatively simple and quick. According to the World Bank (2018 data), it takes an estimated 3.5 days to set up a business in France, on a par with Denmark, compared with 4.5 days in the UK and 8 days in Germany.

In terms of employment in France, the employment rate for the working-age population (15-64) was 73% at the end of 2022 according to Statista. This rate is the highest in the last twenty years, demonstrating the strength of the French economy.

Investing in France: who are the investors?

In 2022, France remained Europe’s most attractive country for investors for the 4th year running. According to the EY European Attractiveness Barometer, nearly 1,260 foreign investment projects were launched in 2022, up 3% from 2021. According to EY, “the willingness to invest in France remains robust”: over 60% of companies have immediate plans to invest in France in 2023. Compared with its European neighbors, France is widening the gap (UK: 930 projects, Germany: 830 projects).

The projects are diverse, from expansion of existing companies and site openings to company takeovers. One real driver of attractiveness is industry: 4 out of 10 projects in 2022 involved setting up or expanding a factory. The EY study also shows that France is “Europe’s innovation champion”, with the creation of 144 hosted R&D centers by 2022.

In all, 38,100 jobs have been created in France thanks to these foreign investment projects.

In 2022, Germany will remain the leading investor in terms of number of projects, accounting for almost 30% of all projects invested. The United States is the leading investor outside Europe, accounting for 20% of projects invested in France. Other foreign investors counting on France for their projects include the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.

Investment projects in France are focused on growth sectors such as innovation and research and development. And since France boasts some of the best business schools, engineering schools and universities in Europe, its skilled graduates can offer companies and investors a talented workforce capable of innovating and offering quality services.

How to invest or set up a startup in France?

To invest in France, you need to know the local market. That’s why we recommend that you surround yourself with trusted contacts who can help you understand its specific characteristics. Whether it be down to real estate, taxes, administrative formalities or the living environment, the most important thing is to make the right choice so that you can set up in a city and environment that match your expectations.

Investing in France can be financially advantageous in terms of taxation, depending on your financial situation, your country of origin and your activity. Similarly, French banks and other private financial institutions may offer zero-interest or low-interest loans to entrepreneurs wishing to invest in France.

You’ll also need to find out about the conditions for staying in France (visa, passport…) and the social arrangements for working in France such as access to the healthcare system for you and your family, for example. For advice on these matters, contact local authorities or certified organizations.

On the whole, formalities for setting up a start-up or investing in France are simplified. Creating your activity, finding investors, registering your company and finding premises can all be facilitated by organizations like BASQUE INVEST. We also provide comprehensive support for organizing your children’s schooling, your spouse’s employment and other non-business related elements of your move.

Why set up your business in the Basque Country?

With its vibrant culture, strong economy and prime location – next to Spain and close to the cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse – the Basque Country is an ideal place to set up your business in France.

The economy is growing all the time, aided in part by a highly-developed intermodal road-train-air transport system. Combined with the environmental and social appeal of the area, an ever-increasing number of companies are looking to make the move, and the  infrastructure is being developed accordingly.


It is with this growth in mind that BASQUE INVEST helps companies set up in the Basque Country. Our strength lies in being able to connect you with all the necessary institutions, organizations, collaborators and partners you might need, whether you want to set up your own business, relocate your company or create a subsidiary. We will guide you to success!

Your sector of activity in the Basque Country