It’s the sexiest industry in Europe and is increasingly a model of competitiveness, by reinventing itself and increasing exports every year. The footwear industry was part of the Innovation Roadmap, which included a visit of the Prime Minister, António Costa. In the event, the footwear sector presented a “Roadmap of the Footwear Sector for the Digital Economy”. FOOTure 4.0 predicts an investment of 50 million euros until 2020 and its main goal is to make the sector “a world leader in the field of customer relations, through the sophistication of the products, a rapid response capability and great support service”. To achieve this vision, APICCAPS and the Footwear Technology Center of Portugal (CTCP) have created a new ecosystem by involving over 70 entities, including companies, startups, universities, intelligence centers and entities within the scientific and technological system.
“Nowadays, this industry is growing by innovation and has turned a so called traditional sector into a sector with a future. FOOTure, the challenge that the footwear industry has set for itself, is supported by structural funds and by the Industry 4.0 strategy”, stated Manuel Caldeira Cabral, the Minister of Economy.
FOOTure 4.0 aims to explore the opportunities created by Industry 4.0 and has defined four strategic priorities: create forms of interaction with the customer within a digital and networked context; improve the flexibility, response time to customers, business intelligence and sustainability; qualify the sector for Industry 4.0 by making it more dynamic, innovative and able to create new businesses; and to improve the sector’s image and intelligence.
The “Roadmap of the Footwear Sector for the Digital Economy” presents 14 actions divided by four strategic axes. The first relates to “Customer Experience’s Innovation”. The Portuguese footwear industry still has a relatively limited contact with final costumers, which has implications on the development of products and definition of commercial and promotional strategies. Industry 4.0 tools offer new opportunities for action in this domain. For instances, the Roadmap predicts the development of new business models, the use of omnichannel strategies and the adoption of co-creation processes with the customer.
The second line concerns “Intelligent Manufacturing Systems”. Here are included actions regarding the adoption of technologies and processes destined to deepen a rapid and flexible production, transformations in terms of products’ development and efficient prototyping, reformulation of the value chain to a more collaborative and sustainable end, and process digitalization in general.
“Qualification” is the keyword of the third strategic line. The aim is to attract youngsters, create new skills, qualify the companies’ top management and promote qualified entrepreneurship.
The fourth line consists of activities within the “Sectorial Leadership and Plan Coordination” domains, led by APICCAPS and CTCP. Essentially, this line embraces all the coordination of the action plan and collective benefit actions, such as intelligence or the collective image promotion of an industry or cluster.
Of the predicted 50 million euros investment until 2020, 12 million are already on track. Half of that value is being invested through project FAMEST, by CTCP, and is being promoted by a consortium of 23 companies of the sector’s entire value chain, by nine I&I entities and led by Kyaia.