The European Confederation of Footwear Industry (CEC) has announced the start-up of a new research project under the European Erasmus+SciELD program entitled “Footwear in the 21st century: New skills for the design of drastically improved comfort, sustainable, fashion-oriented and scientifically-led footwear products,” which aims to find new methods of assessing the lifecycle of a shoe.

It is also intended to identify the parameters that can affect the quality of the shoe while ensuring sustainability as well as comfort and performance, particularly through the use of 3D CAD-CAM-CAE, 3D scanning, material selection and rapid prototyping tools.

The analysis will provide the necessary scientific background to equip designers and production managers in the footwear sector with new qualifications. As an indirect benefit, the program should also help attract more students to the sector by offering modernized and improved curricula.

Erasmus+SciELD is a collaboration between SMEs, associations, research institutes and high-education institutions. Fourteen partners from six member states of the European Union support the project. Activ Ortopedic, one of the partners from Romania, manufactures prostheses and orthoses for the upper and lower limb, orthoses for the vertebral column and orthopedic shoes in CAD CAM. Vibram produces sophisticated rubber soles. Evathink makes EVA plates for orthopedic applications. Creative Thinking Development is a non-profit firm focusing on environmental protection, employment and local development in Greece. Klaveness Footwear from Portugal produces comfort, formative and orthopedics footwear with individual adjustments and CNC orthotics.

The associations and research centers involved in the project are Elsevie, the Hellenic association of the footwear industry; Inescop and CTCP, the Spanish and Portuguese non-profit scientific and technical organizations catering to the footwear industry; and Virtual Campus, which offers consulting services to SMEs in the areas of technologically enhanced learning, serious games and information systems.

The high-education institutions that are supporting the program are the Miguel Hernández University of Elche, the University of the Aegean, Universitatea Tehnica Gheorghe Asachi din Iasi and Politecnico of Milan.

At the end of the program, universities will receive an “educational package” to include in their undergraduate or graduate curricula.

Five seminars will be held in five partner countries with 100 participants from the footwear industry and the academic sector. Training courses will take place during the seminars. Shoe designers will formulate new product concepts in practical workshops. The last seminar will take place in Greece to summarize the results of the previous meetings.