Amsterdam, Stockholm, Madrid and Paris. Portugal aims to become an international benchmark in the development of sustainable solutions and, for that reason, has toured some main European capitals with the exhibition “Nothing is lost, everything is transformed”.
“The achievements of the past are not guarantees of the future”, defends Luís Onofre. For the President of APICCAPS, “despite the remarkable performance of the Portuguese footwear in the past decade – excluding the pandemic period – in the foreign markets to where it exports more than 95% of its production, we feel that the business is changing, and to remain at the forefront it is up to us to invest in a new industry”. The affirmation of the Portuguese footwear in foreign markets “must be grounded on the sophistication and creativity of the Portuguese offer, in terms of biomaterials, eco-products, digital and agile processes, and new business models, allowing us to bet on market segments where choice is based more on fashion than price.”
As such, the footwear sector will invest 140 million euros in the next three years in the industry of the future. The sector intends “to strengthen Portuguese exports with the support of a highly-competitive national manufacturing base underpinned by knowledge and innovation”.
Cotton, coffee, apple peel, cork, and wood are some materials from which it is already possible to produce footwear. In this new generation of products, biomaterials are a strong bet for the future. Leather shoes will continue to be a valid and excellent option. In the exhibition, it is also possible to know how waste soles can give rise to new raw materials, or how old shoes can be turned into new ones or plastic bottles.
In two distinct, though complementary, projects supported by the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Programme (RRP), APICCAPS and CTCP have brought together more than 100 companies, including universities, firms and entities from the science and technology ecosystem, to engineer a new decade of growth in foreign markets.
With a budget of 80 million euros, the BioShoes4All project, which will be divided into five pillars – biomaterials, environmentally-friendly footwear, circular economy, advanced production technologies, and training and promotion -, aims to “guarantee a resilient national manufacturing base for positioning in foreign markets where innovation, differentiation, quick and effective response, service, product quality, training and promotion give us the competitive edge against the competition”, ensures Maria José Ferreira, from the Technological Footwear Centre and coordinator of the project. Hence, the footwear sector “has the ambition of inducing a radical change in materials, technologies, processes and products”.
The FAIST Project, in turn, will have a budget of 60 million euros to “increase the degree of specialization in the Portuguese footwear industry for new types of products and enhance the supply capacity of the Portuguese footwear companies by boosting their capacity to manufacture medium and large orders, using more efficient assembly processes”, advances Leandro de Melo.
“If Portuguese companies today – he explains – are recognized for their ability to innovate, efficiently manufacture small orders or for their flexibility, they will now have to optimize processes and improve efficiency to ensure new gains in competitiveness”.