140 Million Reasons to Believe

The Portuguese footwear industry will invest €140 million over the next three years, through the Footwear and Fashion Cluster led by APICCAPS and the Portuguese Footwear Technological Centre (CTCP), to become “the international benchmark in terms of the development of sustainable solutions”. The sector also intends to “strengthen Portuguese exports based on a highly competitive national productive ground, based on knowledge and innovation”.

In two distinct albeit complementary projects, supported by the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), APICCAPS and CTCP brought together more than 100 companies, including universities, businesses and scientific and technological system bodies, to prepare a new decade of growth in foreign markets.

“Past achievements do not guarantee the future”, admits Luís Onofre. For the President of APICCAPS, “although in the last decade Portuguese footwear exhibited a remarkable performance — excluding the pandemic period — in foreign markets, exporting more than 95% of its output, the business has changed, and it is up to us to invest in a new industry, to remain at the forefront”. The assertion of Portuguese footwear in foreign markets “must be grounded in the sophistication and creativity of what Portugal has to offer in terms of biomaterials, eco-products, digital and agile processes and new business models, allowing us to commit to market segments where choice is based more on fashion and technique than on price”.


The BioShoes4All project, which has a budget of €80 million, will be divided into five pillars — biomaterials, ecological footwear, circular economy, advanced production technologies and training, and promotion. It aims to “guarantee a resilient national production basis for positioning in foreign markets in which innovation, differentiation, quick and effective response, service, product quality, training and promotion are competitive arguments for outperforming the competition”, says Maria José Ferreira, the project’s coordinator from the Footwear Technological Centre. The footwear sector “has the ambition of inducing a radical change in materials, technologies, processes and products”.

“The development and production of new biomaterials and components, anchored in the principles of the circular bioeconomy and sustainable development in all its dimensions, creating differentiated solutions that are valued by both clients and consumers, helping catalyse a new sustainable bio-based economy, the efficient valorisation of national and regional bio-resources and decarbonisation” is one of the main goals of this project. It is also necessary to “create new eco-product concepts for footwear and leather goods, based on the principles of the circular economy and carbon neutrality, with high functionality, innovative processes and business models that are essential to the strategy of differentiation and long-term value creation, aimed at the consumer who admires design and fashion, wishes to define his or her product, is informed, socially and environmentally demanding and responsible, and often digital”.

Just as important is the “design and implementation of new approaches and technologies aimed at minimising and valorising post-production and post-consumption waste, in the context of a circular green economy, favouring the increase of materials’ life cycles, the more efficient management of material and energetic resources, carbon neutrality and the fight against climate change”.

Within the scope of the BioShoes4Ail project is also “the development and use of advanced technologies, within the framework of new technological and sustainability paradigms, including traceability tools for the entire value chain, robotics, the value from data or artificial intelligence, helping increase the cluster’s flexibility, productivity, competitiveness and resilience”.

€60 million in cutting edge technology

The FAIST project will be developed with a budget of close to €60 million, with the purpose of “increasing the degree of specialisation in the Portuguese footwear industry for new types of products” and enhancing “the supply capacity of Portuguese footwear companies by enhancing the capacity to manufacture medium and large orders using more efficient assembly processes”, says Leandro de Melo.

“If today Portuguese companies are recognised for their capacity for innovation, for efficiently manufacturing small orders and their flexibility, they will soon have to optimise processes and improve efficiency to ensure new gains in competitiveness”.

According to the General Director of the Portuguese Footwear Technological Centre, the footwear cluster must “innovate in establishing the footwear production chain, from the production of components to the manufacturing of uppers and the creation of modular assembly units”. Simultaneously, it ought to “commit to the production of equipment and advanced technologies to replace imports, creating local skills and capacities that are essential for the installation of production units with high levels of automation and robotics”. Strengthening cooperation with universities, polytechnics, interface technological centres and businesses, designing new automatic and robotic production lines in demonstration companies that can serve as test and experimentation sites, as well as training human resources, are also goals to be achieved.

Shoes: Dark Collection

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