The Portuguese cork industry has inaugurated a new paradigm of industrial management, becoming vertically integrated to guarantee control of the whole chain of value and, at the same time, coming closer to forestry production and end users. The cork industry is now totally committed to quality and to the satisfaction of its clients.
The increasing investment in research and development in quality is visible in projects in different areas, such as diversification policies, personnel qualification and training, the ongoing renovation of manufacturing processes which have an impact on the entire management and organization of production, looking to guarantee the best occupational health and safety conditions, the integration of environmental protection and improvement processes, the intensification of internationalization, the concern for the level of human resource management, and also a serious effort regarding all aspects of quality.
The Portuguese cork industry has invested heavily in innovation and research. The databases of INPI – National Industrial Property Agency have recorded in 10 years, between 2004 and 2014, 99 applications for the registration of models of national utility and patents of invention, with the word “cork” in the national title or summary. This value corresponds to approximately 1.5% of applications received by INPI in the same period. 41% of all applications relating to “cork” were submitted by companies, divided between cork industry companies (31%) and others (10%). 5% of applications are by companies in a consortium with scientific and technological entities, and 19% are from independent applications by these scientific and technological entities. About a third, 34% of applications, were made by private individuals. In addition to the 99 applications, the databases of the INPI register between 2004 and 2014, 21 applications for patents of invention and international invention patents that mention “cork”. 9 of these are submitted by individuals and 12 by companies.
INETI, National Institute of Engineering and Industrial Technology, stated in a 2004 study that there were 691 registered patents worldwide related to cork and its applications on that date, divided into 363 specific applications, 115 relating to cork stoppers 114 relating to agglomerated cork, and 99 for technologies, processes and equipment.