On a roadmap that recognizes innovation throughout the country, the footwear industry was the 3rd sector highlighted by the Government. “It wasn't possible to do an Innovation Roadmap and not having a day dedicated to footwear. Firstly, because the recent history of the footwear industry is a good demonstration of how the driving force of our development must rely on innovation. That’s why, when I want to give an example of how innovation is indeed an engine for development, the footwear’s example is always what comes to my mind”, said António Costa. The Prime Minister has visited the footwear industry with Manuel Caldeira Cabral, Minister of Economy, Pedro Nuno Santos, Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs, and Ana Teresa Lehnman, State Secretary for Industry.
The first stop was Procalçado, in Vila Nova de Gaia, a company with 45 years of history and a production of 5 million pairs of shoe soles per year. In less than a decade, Procalçado went from being merely a components’ company to creating two brands, Wook and Lemon Jelly. Later, the Innovation Roadmap went to the Footwear Technology Center of Portugal (CTCP), in São João da Madeira. The investment in competitiveness is a main focus of FOOTure 4.0, which aims to make the sector a world leader in the field of customer relations. Thus, the Portuguese footwear future requires innovation and entrepreneurship. At the Footwear Technology Center, António Costa got to know a new generation of companies that are revolutionizing the footwear sector. Undandy, And I Wonder and Feet It some of the examples of startups that have created innovative business models within the digital universe.
The Prime Minister also got to know Skypro, a company specialized in the production of footwear to airlines and ground handling, therefore designed to all latitudes, and Olives, a new brand from São João da Madeira that manufactures felt products. “We have seen here today startups that have local production but are able to export to hundreds of countries through online trade. We also have industries that have improved production processes by incorporating digitally gathered information. Also, there are productions that have improved with the information gathered from the customers’ feedback and trends”, stated António Costa.
To Manuel Carlos Silva, Chief Executive of APICCAPS, “the footwear industry has become the sector of the Portuguese economy with greater degree of expertise and highest trade balance. (…) By placing innovation at the forefront of the political agenda, the Prime Minister has sent a signal of personal commitment into this long journey the Portuguese society has ahead, made by small daily steps with persistence and passion.”
António Costa, Prime Minister
“The footwear sector has been having the ability to reinvent itself through a strong investment in innovation to differentiate and qualify its offer by gaining market share. In 2017, the Portuguese footwear companies have exported 83 million pairs of shoes”.
Manuel Caldeira Cabral, Minister of Economy
“The footwear industry wasn’t placed on the Innovation Roadmap by us (government). It was placed on the Innovation Roadmap by itself, by the entrepreneurs of the sector, by APICCAPS, by the fine work it has done, by its great effort in investing in innovation and technology”.