The Basque Country startups to watch in 2023

Startup 2022

Whether they are already established or in the making, industrial, digital or responsible, these five start-ups bear witness to the diversity of local projects. But although rooted in the Basque Country, these young innovative companies all have international ambitions.

Lynxter - The three friends who became industrialists

Lynxter logo

It is first of all the story of three friends who met on the benches of the National Engineering School of Tarbes. In 2015, during their studies, Julien Duhalde, Karim Sinno and Thomas Batigne set about creating a large 3D printer with a rather avant-garde design. Called S600D, their machine tool for additive manufacturing by material deposition is distinguished by its great versatility of usable materials. It can be used to manufacture prototypes or mini-series in thermoplastic, elastomer or ceramic thanks to interchangeable tool heads.

Basque Country startups to watch in 2023 1

While presenting their project at the Les Entrepreneuriales competition, they were spotted by the Airbus group, which then placed their first order when they created their company in March 2016. The three friends set up their workshop in Julien Duhalde's parents' garage in Lahonce to build their machine. What followed was a success story. In September 2017, Lynxter moved to the Technocité site in Bayonne, which hosts startups in the industrial sector. In July 2019, Lynxter completes a first round of seed funding of 1.5 million euros.


"We made the right choice by coming to the Basque Country, when everything was pushing us towards Toulouse and its aerospace industry. Here, Lynxter is visible: we have been able to raise funds and benefit from the unfailing support of the local authorities and the Region, whereas elsewhere, in very large cities, we would have been drowned in the mass.

Thomas Batigne // One of the founders in the pages of the daily newspaper Sud Ouest in early December 2021.

The S600D is sold for around 25,000 euros. Designed and assembled in Bayonne, it is marketed to industrialists, engineering schools, aeronautical and pharmaceutical groups and manufacturing service providers. Today, the Lynxter company has around thirty employees and is set to expand, in particular to consolidate its international ambitions. A brand new 3,500 square metre building will house the company in early 2023 on the Technocité site in Bayonne.

Lynxter - June 2021

Website: https: //lynxter.fr/ 

ZestMeUp - Facilitating conversation in the workplace

Zest logo

 "We offer a human resources management solution to measure employee commitment and performance. 

Christophe Bergeon // Founder with Guillaume Viry of the startup ZestMeUp in 2015.

The platform deployed by ZestMeUp in companies allows them to conduct surveys and opinion polls in a fast way to know the morale of the troops in real time. 

Managers can go further with an 'engagement meter' whose questions have been written with the help of a doctor in psychometrics. The aim is to measure levels of engagement. The solution also allows for the sharing of ideas and constructive feedback.


ZestMeUp has a team of about twenty people in Paris, a dozen telecommuting throughout France and a dozen in Biarritz who are based at the Connecteur. It is because Christophe Bergeon shares his family life between the Basque Coast and Paris that the startup has developed in both cities. ZestMeUp now has 200 clients in more than 35 countries. In the context of the Covid crisis, the theme of well-being at work has taken on a new meaning. The solution for real-time measurement of employees' state of mind and motivation is proving to be particularly useful for understanding and managing remote teams. ZestMeUp's business is therefore growing rapidly. 

Website: https: //zestmeup.com/ 

Expateo - The HR app is now targeting the international market

expateo logo

 "We completely pivoted our business at the end of 2018. Our international mobility digital assistance app for company employees going to live abroad was the basis for the development of our current software. It is now a single platform with dedicated interfaces for employees, HR teams and providers." 

Claire Pinatel // Director and co-founder of the startup Expateo.

Having lived in Turkey, Congo, Canada and Spain for professional reasons, Claire Pinatel imagined a new service inspired by her personal experience of moving and settling abroad. With two partners, she created the Expateao platform in 2015 with the aim of saving company employees precious time so that they don't forget anything when dealing with the administrative procedures involved in international moves. 

The Expateo project developed with the move to the ESTIA Entreprendre incubator at the Izarbel technology park in Bidart in September 2016. An initial fundraising of €350,000 was then carried out. Bank loans and shareholders' equity were included in this fundraising.

Expateo startup 2022

The Expateo team has developed a turnkey digital solution to manage the many HR aspects and procedures related to an employee's international mobility. Although Expateo's offer was initially aimed at individuals, a purely business to business strategy was finally chosen. With a new round of funding, this time of one million euros in 2021, the company has moved to a higher level. It now has about fifteen employees and is currently recruiting.

Today, Expateo is a human resources software company whose solution is used by large groups for the international mobility of their teams. One might have thought that the health crisis would have slowed down its activity, but on the contrary. "The health crisis has accelerated our activity because our tool is adapted to the movements and repatriations of families. It also allows for the organisation of teleworking, remote personnel management and assistance with tax and regulatory issues," says Claire Pinatel. Contracts have recently been signed with major French companies. Expateo's ambition is to increase its activity in France but also to expand internationally in 2023.

Website: https: //expateo.com/fr/ 

Woody Van - The responsible and comfortable road trip

Woodyvan logo

To distinguish himself from the other campervan and motorhome rental companies in the Basque Country, Mathieu Bessou has opted for a responsible and original concept. His four state-of-the-art vehicles have been fitted out with ecologically responsible wood from selective felling. In addition, the hygiene products (toilet paper, soap, sponge) are environmentally friendly and the vans are cleaned without water. Mathieu Bessou also offers tailor-made itineraries intelligently designed to limit the need for sterile and polluting return trips. 

It was at the very beginning of 2021 that Mathieu Bessou created the Woody Van company in the Lanazia business incubator in Ascain. He has been living in the Basque Country for the past ten years and has travelled extensively. This travel experience combined with a background in international trade specialising in hotels, restaurants and tourism has undoubtedly enabled him to formulate this attractive offer. Woody Van's website shows a respectful attitude and offers well thought-out travel services. 

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Basque Country startups to watch in 2023 3

Website: https: //www.woody-van.com

Butrfly - Digital au pairing

Butrfly logo

 "The closure of the borders for a year slowed down our activity considerably but in 2021 we experienced a growth of 70%". 

Manuela Dizier Chanfreau // founder with Anne-Claire Villaumé of theButrfly agency.

This start-up created at the beginning of 2018 on the Izarbel technology park in Bidart is now the first French digitalized platform for au pair stays.

The Butrfly agency organises "au pair stays" for young people from all over the world in French families. These young people are provided with accommodation and food and have to look after their host family's children for about 25 hours a week in exchange for a little pocket money. This concept of au pair stays is a way for them to improve their knowledge of a foreign language and to become familiar with a new culture.


With the creation of the Butterfly platform, Manuela Dizier Chanfreau and Anne-Claire Villaumé had the good idea of facilitating the administrative procedures for these stays, but also the selection of families and candidates as well as their networking. Today, the platform has 25,000 subscribers. "One third are families, two thirds are young people, almost all of them French, but also French families living abroad," explains Manuela Dizier Chanfreau. 

Two other competing platforms share this market with Butrfly, which is nevertheless the only French one. "For the past fifteen months we have had a greater sociological diversity of host families. The young people come mainly from the United States, Northern Europe, Spain and Canada," notes Manuela Dizier Chanfreau. With four employees, the Butrfly startup is now a small company whose objective for 2022 is to consolidate its activity. 

Website: https: //www.aupairbutrfly.com

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Vincent Biard

The author of this article

Vincent Biard has been working for the press and in communications for twenty years, and is now a journalist for the local and business press. He also provides Internet and social networking services, training and communications consulting. You can also find him on his website cairn-communication.fr.

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