The aerospace industry in the Basque Country: a growth region

Picto Aerospace

Thanks to its strategic location and its natural and human resources, the Basque Country has been an important part of France’s aerospace industry for many years. Attractive and dynamic, our region boasts an extensive aerospace ecosystem.

 

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The aeronautics industry in the basque country

A historic home of aeronautics, where the famous Wright brothers, pioneers of aviation, loved to land, the Basque Country today offers an exceptionally skilled workforce in the sector. The presence of emblematic companies such as Safran Helicopters and Dassault Aviation make the Pyrénées-Atlantiques a prime location for other aeronautics businesses. The industry represents a total of 200 companies and 9,000 jobs in the area, making it one of France’s pioneering aerospace regions. The Dassault Aviation site in Anglet, for example, employs 900 people, and produces parts for Falcon jets and Rafale aircraft.

Accompanied by the BASQUE INVEST team, Quebec-based Optima Aéro chose Anglet as the location for its European subsidiary in 2022. The company, which specializes in the re-use of aeronautical parts for helicopters, now has an industrial site in the area, which is particularly strategic for the aeronautical industry in France. Located 2 hours by road from Bordeaux, home to the Aerospace Valley global competitiveness cluster, Optima Aero benefits from close proximity to potential customers and suppliers. Aerospace Valley, which also has a base in Occitania, aims to consolidate France’s world leadership in space and civil aeronautics (commercial and business aircraft), and to reinforce its position of excellence in embedded systems (electronic systems and autonomous computing).

Committed to the circular economy, Optima Aéro is keen to develop its offers and services for the reconditioning of aeronautical industry parts, and will be able to take advantage of the ecosystem and skills present in our region.

The Technocité cluster, based in Bayonne and in partnership with Aerospace Valley, is the very symbol of this sector of excellence in the Basque Country. It hosts both new and more established companies, all with the common objective of transforming the aeronautics industry in the Basque Country and making our region a forerunner.

As Toby Gauld, CEO of Optima Aéro, explains: “To attract the best talent with a taste for innovation, you need to offer an appealing environment.

The space industry and new space : opportunities in the basque country

The space industry in France is a strategic sector that makes a significant contribution to the national economy – it consists of more than 1700 companies, earns sales of 10.8 billion euros in 2020 (INSEE) and is one of the world’s leading exporters in the sector. It is also involved in a number of international space programs, notably as a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) and as a key partner in projects such as Galileo (the European satellite navigation system) and Copernicus (the European Earth observation program).

The French space ecosystem is diverse and dynamic, comprising companies specializing in satellite manufacturing, space launchers, navigation systems and satellite communications services, as well as research centers and laboratories of excellence. France is also recognized for its work and investment in space research and technological innovation.

In south-west France, the rise of the “New Space” movement and the space sector in general is accompanied by the development of specific infrastructures to support this growth:

  • Aerospace Valley cluster – one of Europe’s leading competitiveness clusters in the field of aeronautics, space and embedded systems. This cluster brings together companies, research laboratories and higher education establishments to foster innovation and collaboration in the space sector.
  • Incubators – the region boasts several specialist incubators, offering support to startups and young innovative companies. These structures often provide workspaces, personalized support, consulting services and sometimes access to a network of investors.

One example is Basque Space Data, a group of companies and local players created and led by ESTIA Entreprendre, and supported by Aerospace Valley, CNES (Centre National des Etudes Spatiales) and ADI-NA (Agence de Développement et d’Innovation de Nouvelle-Aquitaine). Its aim is to pool knowledge, space data and the ability to exploit this data to become more competitive and foster innovation. A number of Basque and Landes-based companies are members: Aguila Technologies, Wave Bumper, Abyssa, Max Sea, Hupi, Rivages Pro Tech, SIG Image, Naldeo, Setavoo and Teria.

  • Toulouse Space Center – Toulouse is a major center for the space industry in France. The space center is the headquarters of CNES (Centre national d’études spatiales). This center plays a key role in the development and control of French satellites, as well as in the coordination of European space missions.

Research laboratories – the region is home to a number of specialized space research laboratories, working on subjects such as space propulsion, Earth observation, satellite navigation, space materials and more. These laboratories are often associated with higher education establishments such as Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier University, or ESTIA (Ecole Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées) based in Bidart

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