When JA Innovation Camps address the future of the shoe industry

Zlin, 04 October 2019

In a world of rapid technological changes and digitalisation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents challenges and opportunities for all industries across the world. The shoe industry is no exception. With the tastes of consumers evolving rapidly, shoemakers need to continually offer better and bolder product lines and keep up with new technologies to catch the consumer's eye. These far-reaching transformations call for innovative ways of thinking and enhanced entrepreneurial spirit.

Design, fashion, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship as key drivers

This challenging environment prompted JA Europe and Bata to bring university students together and face them to the challenge of foreseeing a shoe of the future which would mix comfort, affordability and casual style.

Twenty four students from several design, fashion and technology universities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia competed and presented their innovative solutions mixing design, fashion, technology and innovation.

The winning team won the challenge by proposing to create custom sneakers for affordable price with various changable components. The innnovation concept is based on customer creativity. The sneaker is separated into three components (sole, upper part, laces). Customer becomes designer of his own unique sneakers.

"We wanted to bring the Bata brand to the young generation. Therefore, we wanted to propose a shoe that is affordable, colourful, but also customisable, so that the customer can get a product that is unique. This innovation camp was a great learning experience since we teamed up with some students coming from differents disciplines and professional mentors. We had to explain the business model to people working on design and materials and understand how they think to better work together and achieve our goal."  said Oskar Karlík, member of the winning team. 

"I really enjoyed participating as mentor in this Innovation Camp. You get a very fresh and young view on the things that you do. I got some feedback on the commercial we are working on and got some good ideas for the future of our communications. Interacting with students, helped me to think differently when it comes to communicate with the young audience", shared Ondrej Cedidla, Marketing Manager at Bata.

Back to the roots

The Innovation Camp also provided an opportunity to expose these young people to the history of Bata and the incredible story of innovation and entrepreneurship of Tomas Bata: the relationship between JA and the Bata Group goes back 40 years. Early on, in Canada, Mr and Mrs Bata were both appointed as board members of JA Canada, Bata being a major supporter of the organisation. After 1989, when Bata was able to return to the Czechoslovakia, JA organisations were set up in Prague and Bratislava. Later, after the Velvet Divorce, JA Czech Republic and JA Slovakia were created in 1994. Bata went on to support the creation of a JA regional office to support nascent JA operations in Central and Eastern Europe, housed in the Bata founder’s home in Zlin.

“Education and entrepreneurship have always been key to the Bata culture. Nothing means more to Bata than to see young people realising their dreams and to see the JA network grow every year. JA has brought the “experience of a lifetime” to so many young people and must continue to do so,” said Monica Pignal, Chair of the Bata Shoe Foundation.

“We are so grateful to Bata for their longstanding commitment to JA. We share the same vision that the fast pace of changes across industries and the high demand for qualified people with skills and competences such as creativity make such initiatives a necessity. We are very happy so many students were given the opportunity today to acquire such skills,” said Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe

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