The digital and AI sector in the Basque Country

Picto Esn, Digital and IA

The Basque Country is renowned for its dynamism in the digital economy and its desire to innovate in this sector. The creation of a site specialized in the digital industry, the Izarbel technopole in Bidart, has only helped to strengthen the region’s appeal and reputation for expertise.

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Digital companies in france : a leading industry in the basque country

Every year, many software developers, start-ups, artificial intelligence (AI) specialists and e-tailers settle in the region for its favorable living environment and ecosystem for the development of this business sector. Some of the best-known names include, Beyourself, Maltem, Izarralde, Belharra, Maxsea and Sophia Genetics.

Digital business clusters and technopoles in the basque country

The clusters, incubators and technopoles present in the area increase the chances of synergies and development. 

The Lanazia business incubator in Ascain and the Izarbel business incubator in Bidart, for example, offer hosting and coaching solutions for e-businesses. The Bayonne CCI organizes weekly conferences to share best practices, as well as collective brainstorming sessions to reflect on traffic creation strategies (traffic lab, conversion lab, social lab). A full range of service providers, from web agencies and SEO specialists to graphic designers and traffic creation specialists, are present in the Basque Country.

The Izarbel technology park in Bidart specializes in cutting-edge digital technology. The 20-hectare site is supplied by high-speed connections from several operator networks and companies located there also benefit from a shared platform for digital services. An extension of the zone to nearly 15 hectares is   in order to accommodate more businesses in the future.

Izarbel is currently home to:

  • 110 companies and headquarters (robosoft, exakis, certim, iséo, apave, etc.)
  • 1000+ employees
  • 3 laboratories (innovation support)
  • 2 incubators
  • 1 engineering school (l’Ecole Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées – ESTIA, member of the Conférence des grandes écoles with over 1,200 students)
  • 1 business center
  • Specific assistance offered by the technology resource center and by scientific and technological communities of interest.

The Pays Basque Digital cluster offers a similar network of over 60   companies, representing some 1,500 skilled jobs and generating sales of over 150 million euros. The aim of this cluster, like the Izarbel technopole as a whole, is to help digital companies develop their business, but also to promote the Basque Country’s expertise in this sector.

60 companies here but 110 in the list below. Which is correct?

Les chiffres sont corrects : 110 entreprises et 60 entreprises du digital avec une activité spécifique

Ok, thanks. Hopefully this is clearer now. It wasn’t clear that it was two separate things and the paragraphs were joined and the list was lower than is should be.

Software publishers and videogame industry players in the basque country

Among the digital companies based in the Basque Country and belonging to the Pays Basque Digital cluster, there are several companies renowned in France, Europe and the rest of the world for their expertise in software and application publishing. Here are just a few examples:

  • Established by BASQUE INVEST, Njuko is a Basque pure-player specializing in sports event management that aims to offer a turnkey application for managing and digitizing events. Starting out as an online registration platform, Njuko is now a partner of major sporting competitions in France and Europe: marathons (Milan, London, Frankfurt, Geneva, Luxembourg, Nantes, Toulouse), trails (SaintéLyon), the famous Marseille-Cassis race and also French federations (athletics, triathlon, cycling, skiing). Njuko was acquired by Asics, the benchmark running brand, in December 2022.
  • Founded in 1978, this digital company is one of the pioneers in its field in France, designing and marketing environmental analysis and measurement systems. With a presence in over 80 countries, ENVEA is now recognized for its expertise, and has turned its specialization into a major competitive strength, with a clear link to today’s issues: limiting environmental impact, and the challenge of innovating with more sustainable solutions.
  • SEI (Savoir-faire Engagement Innovation). This Bidart based company develops software solutions to support companies, particularly in supply chain management. Developing tailor-made applications to address a wide range of issues (sales forecasting, purchasing, quality control, inventory management, etc.), SEI works for major local and national companies such as Safran, Sokoa, Boardriders, Aigle and Lafuma.
  • MAXSEA. Specializing in digital services linked to the sea and the yachting industry, Izarbel based MAXSEA offers marine navigation software for maritime professionals.
  • Sig-Image. Specialized in software for the public works and construction sectors since the 1990s. As one of France’s 3 leading companies in this sector, Sig-Image’s customers include major industry accounts such as Bouygues Construction, Vinci and Eiffage Energie. Anchored in the Basque region since its creation, the company is constantly on the lookout for development and innovation, and collaborates with ESTIA (Ecole Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées), Aerospace Valley and other Basque, French and Spanish technology clusters.

The Basque Country, and the wider Nouvelle Aquitaine region, is a particularly dynamic area for the video game industry, with 150 established companies, including the world-renowned Asobo and Ubisoft, based in Bordeaux, just 2 hours from the Basque coast. According to Martial Brossard, co-founder of Asobo, “the French are renowned for two things. There’s a graphic culture, (…), and the technical aspect. We train excellent engineers (…), and our expertise is recognized and in demand.”

The video game industry represents sales of 5 billion euros in France, a figure that should continue to grow given the growing appetite of users. To position itself in this buoyant market and to train the engineers and developers of tomorrow, ESTIA has created the ESTIA Tech department. According to Olivier Larre, who runs the department, it aims to “promote technologies from the world of video games and gaming, such as augmented reality and virtual reality”. ESTIA was able to develop this service as part of the “Game Labs Net” project and in partnership with the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) for the South of France, Spain and Portugal.

Some Basque companies are capitalizing on this booming industry to develop offerings linked to the field. One such company is Madcow Entertainment France. established by BASQUE INVEST. It markets interactive and multimedia products under its Teknofun brand, via licenses for products derived from major cartoons or video games, inspired by pop culture. Fulllife, a company based in Biarritz, has also capitalized on the digital video game industry to develop the first “Gameswear company”, which consists of a range of physical, textile and responsibly-designed products for gamers. Founded by connoisseurs of the textile and boardsports industries (Boardriders Europe, DC Shoes, Element…), Fulllife is taking advantage of the gaming craze to innovate and “create a link between the real and the virtual”.

The Pays Basque is also fortunate to be a benchmark region in the audiovisual sector. The Pôle Image Pays Basque offers an advanced technician’s certificate in Audiovisual studies to train tomorrow’s talent in engineering techniques, sound engineering, editing and post-production.

BASQUE INVEST is proud to have helped three companies set up in this field in the Basque Country:

  • Intelligence Audio – An immersive sound production studio with a site in Bayonne. It works with some of the biggest names in music and events, and regularly performs at iconic venues such as the Olympia in Paris.
  • Kestu – A video production agency specializing in the production, shooting and post-production of institutional and documentary films, based in Ascain.
  • Disnosc – An animated film company that works with talent and producers in France and abroad, based in Anglet.


The advantages of the basque country for a digital services company

The first advantage is the technology park and its research platforms, including the school and possible scientific partnerships. The second is optimized productivity thanks to the living environment and very short commuting times. All the company directors who have set up here have noted this!

Digital clusters and economic groupings are real assets for any digital company wishing to set up in the Basque Country. Thanks to the various companies and infrastructures available here, as well as the engineering school and various training courses, you’ll have all the intellectual, technological and human resources you need to bring your project to fruition.

These dedicated sites – Izarbel, Lanazia and Technocité – truly help high-potential start-ups speed up their development. Nouvelle Aquitaine as a whole is trying to position the region as one of the most attractive regions for start-ups and The Basque Country, with its many young start-ups, seems to be on the right track.

The Basque Country’s lifestyle also makes it an ideal location for freelancers and digital nomads. Many entrepreneurs come to the area to take advantage of its superb environment, while working for national or international companies, and capitalizing on the resources available to freelance workers in the digital industry. This new way of working attracts skilled, qualified people who want to combine innovation, excellence in their work and quality of life.

More and more coworking spaces are emerging, like Le Connecteur in Biarritz, which offers work spaces, training, coaching, comprehensive services and solid infrastructure in order to facilitate the work of entrepreneurs.

BASQUE INVEST is delighted to count some of France’s leading companies in the digital economy among its partners and customers. If you have a digital start-up project, or would like to locate your digital company in the Basque Country, contact us so that we can discuss, advise and support you.

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