Basque-based Invest French Basque Country agency (IFBC) have unparalleled expertise in helping surf industry start-ups get to their feet in the South West of France. From connecting businesses with financial/legal services, to tax information, IFBC has a specialist surf industry network perfect for those moving to this beautiful part of the world looking to dive into the action sports industry.
How is the Basque country performing economically both in general and specific to the surf industry?
The Basque country is a very attractive region in Europe and very dynamic economically speaking. We create more companies here than any other region in France and our average rate is better than national ones for jobs and company setup. Bordeaux catches a lot of business from people coming from Paris, wanting to create a better life down south. We have more and more people from all over the world wanting to benefit from a better way of living with no insecurities and with a beautiful landscape. Tourism is very strong in the Basque country as the destination has become very popular in the French media. As surfing gros with more and more surf schools, we have more foreigners who experience a new sensation with surfing. This phenomenon is helping advance regional surf industries. Surf has now become more popular than ever.
Please explain the new Invest French Basque Country agency.
The Basque country expects to welcome 35,000 new people over the next 10 years, and we expect to see the economy of surfing boosted with increased footfall for surf schools and we look to collaborate with other similar agencies in the Spanish Basque Country.
Please explain how IFBC will help the action sports industry?
We are funded by the chamber of commerce, the French Basque country local institution, and the regional council from Nouvelle Aquitaine, to find and help companies set up their business in the French Basque country. We help companies understand how it works with the French administration, which taxes are to be paid, what to declare and what public funds can be benefitted from. We help them to find services such as contract experts, lawyers, accountants etc. We help these smaller outfits connect with majors players like Quiksilver, GSM Europe (Billabong) or smaller companies with the same range of products. And all of our services are free.
Please talk us through some examples of brands that have successfully used your incubator system.
We helped Weesurf to move from Paris to Olatu in Anglet and helped them to raise 200K Euros from local institutions such as Conseil régional and Herrikoa (local business funds). We connected them with Wilco Prins at Rip Curl and other important players who are looking to invest in their business.
Ti’board are a young French company born in Hendaye and now based in Anglet. The make foam boards for kids, and help them to develop technical skills such as proprioception. The company won an award for best discovery at the Paris Grand Prix of Innovation.
Clae shoes were born in California and were looking for European headquarters and they chose to come to Olatu as it is the best place to find all the services they could need in the fashion and action sports industry. In less than three years, they have developed a real solid business in eight different countries in Europe and have created six jobs. They interact with the design department in California, offering a better understanding of their European clients.
Olatu stage 2 is to be built – please explain why this concept has been so successful.
Olatu has been a success so far because we housed bigger companies like Oakley alongside start-up companies such as Xline studio and Clae shoes. We connect companies with Estia labs for innovation and with EuroSIMA and their network. We need more space and a second building is on its way to provide more offices and a new restaurant.
Please tell us about BALI, your new textiles centre.
We will open a new research lab for technical textile innovations called BALI, created with Estia, our engineering school and Lectra, a French leader for laser cutting machines. We have plans to create a library of materials, which will serve as a bank for all kinds of textiles and will allow designers to create new products and integrate the internet of things (IOT) into textiles.
What developments do you forecast in the Basque country surf industry in the coming years?
Each year sees our network base grow, and we have now been providing consultation and helping start-up companies in the action sports and fashion industry for 17 years. We are very confident we’ll see more and more companies creating jobs in the Basque country as we offer better services and infrastructures to help them start business in the region they’ve decided to call home. Here in the Basque country we protect our start-up companies very well, allowing them to be safe and secure and to offer better services. We create collaborations with engineering schools to source talented young engineers and connect them with innovative companies, which in turn develops a stronger surf industry.