Valnalon - EMC

Rationale and general information

With a population of slightly more than 1.000.000 inhabitants Asturias is a small autonomous region located in the northwest of Spain. The onset of a protracted economic and social crisis in the late 70’ led to a steady stream of coal pit and factory closures and subsequent loss of jobs and social unrest during the 80’. Spain’s accession to the European Union in 1986 granted access to a considerable share of Structural Funds that should help Asturias to overcome such a dire economic and social situation. Considerable efforts and funding have been devoted to the promotion of entrepreneurship ever since. In its role as intermediary organization, Valnalon does not only help schools in translating policy into practice but nurtures ongoing collaboration and dialogue among decision-makers, practitioners, and other social agents such as employers and third sector organizations in the design and delivery of entrepreneurship education projects in primary, secondary and VET schools. 

Valnalon designs and publishes teaching resources, provides teacher training and offers advice and continued support to an extensive network of schools implementing different entrepreneurial education projects. One of Valnalon’s project EMC, aims at students of Special Needs and Integration Support Centres in which they create and manage a cooperative throughout the school year. They manufacture products which they will then sell once a year at a local market or fair.

Starting Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007
Budget and financing sources

Valnalon is primarily funded through regional government revenues ring-fenced in the regional entrepreneurship action plan.

Human resources

Valnalon’s workforce consists of a multidisciplinary team of twenty-four people.


EMC, our entrepreneurship education project for Special Education. The educational needs of students with intellectual disabilities who have completed compulsory education (16 years) demand a curriculum that prioritizes the development of personal autonomy, social and community integration and integration into working life. This involves catering for the specific needs of individual students and providing the right level of support. EMC is an entrepreneurship education project was carefully designed to fulfill the following goals:

  • To help special education needs students develop basic skills (numeracy and literacy, memory and communication skills) in combination with entrepreneurship skills (teamwork, problem solving, initiative)
  • To facilitate school-to-work/adult life transitions by nurturing the development of social and planning skills, as well as positive work habits.
  • To integrate special education needs students as active citizens in their communities 

EMC reinforces some of the methodological approaches teachers are already familiar with. It taps into Cooperative learning and Project Based Learning and engages students in a real-life experience: setting up and managing a co-operative to make and trade handicrafts in the local community.  This requires contacting different stakeholders in the local community (eg. raw material suppliers, potential customers, other schools, local entrepreneurs in the role of experts, and mentors, and even paying a visit to the local bank branch to apply for a micro-loan.)

Dicover more on the full case study

Success factors

Policy level

  • Regional Action Plan for Entrepreneurship favors the articulation of a mid-term vision and targeted financial resources.
  • Interministerial cooperation. Department of Education and  Department for Social Welfare jointly endorsing EMC project. 

School level

  • Long term commitment to the project. It’s been run over 7 years.
  • Highly committed team of teachers and trainers leading the process.
  • School Managing Team and rest of the teaching staff fully supporting co-op work.

Classroom level

  • Participants are highly motivated and see relevance in the work they’re doing ,
  • Work done at the co-op  dovetails with and reinforces existing dynamics and behaviors set in place in the workspaces.
  • Contacts with Primary and Secondary Schools reinforce the motivation and self-esteem of co-op members
  • People involved in the co-op experience a massive improvement in communication skills
  • EMC has been endorsed by the Asturias regional Department of Education as a tool to develop the entrepreneurial competence in special education schools
  • the Department for Welfare and Housing commended the adoption of EMC tool in other Integration Support Centres
  • The project has been successfully transferred to special education schools in Galicia. This entailed adaptation and translation of teaching resources.

EMC, alongside the rest of entrepreneurship education projects developed by Valnalon, has certainly contributed to obtain the following recognitions. To name just a few:

  • Premio Fundación Príncipe de Girona Entidad 2014. This national award acknowledged the work of Valnalon in the design and development of entrepreneurship education projects and business start-up programs.
  • Asturias Programme for the Development of Entrepreneurial Culture is showcased as an outstanding attempt at making entrepreneurship education and integral part of wider socio-economic development in the report “Building Entrepreneurial Mindsets and Skllls in the EU”. 
Ivan Diego,