Foot issues are rapidly becoming a major concern in Europe due to longer lifespans, increased obesity and rising rates of diabetes. Problems for the elderly, obese and diabetics can be prevented or treated with better footwear and insoles. In this context, the EU-funded SOHEALTHY (Mediterranean research network on footcare sector) initiative set up a cooperation network that helps healthcare experts and footcare industrial professionals to collaborate in research areas of mutual interest. It also aimed to foster effective and long-lasting knowledge transfer between EU Member States and the Mediterranean region. By intensifying outreach and dissemination efforts, project partners have established a community of more than 160 footcare experts from 18 countries spanning 4 continents. The network developed a joint research programme by mapping current footcare science and technology and identifying existing and future research and development (R&D) trends. This roadmap pointed to11 key research fields that could form the basis of a strategic research agenda. To support research efforts, 20 researchers were trained in related topics, and others participated in research exchanges to improve knowledge and technical skills. SOHEALTHY also identified opportunities for funding and technology transfer, and highlighted specific industry needs in the footcare sector. Finally, participants organised two international conferences as well as training seminars, workshops and an Innovation Week during the project lifetime. SOHEALTHY built a sound foundation for sustainable R&D collaboration and networking. The footcare industry and the three at-risk groups across Europe stand to benefit from this improved innovation and knowledge exchange.
Foot health, obesity, diabetes, footwear, SOHEALTHY, footcare