Valnalon

Title
Red Empredadora –Reto TMP
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.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Micro Businesses (UK) recommendation to increase local engagement between SME businesses and the education system resonated with Valnalon approach. Bridging the gap between education and start-up support was Valnalon’s main motivation to launch a very simple and straightforward scheme with exactly that same goal in mind: To create a network of SMEs willing to cooperate with schools, teachers and students and reinforce employer engagement in entrepreneurship education.

Timeframe
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.

Activities

“Reto TMP” is a 3-day enterprise challenge for secondary school students  posed by a local employer (SME or NGO).  During three weekly sessions (3 hours each) students get familiar with Design Thinking mindsets and apply some of its methods to understand and reframe the challenge, gain empathy with real users, generate ideas and build prototypes that will be pitched to the local employer in the final session.

“Reto TMP” basic configuration  and delivery entails:

  1. Sign-up:  VET and Upper Secondary School students enroll in a voluntary basis following a series of Careers Talks where a local entrepreneur shares its personal perspective and experience on entrepreneurship and self-employment.
  2. Planning:  Once a minimum number of 10 students sign up, Valnalon and the local employer work together to craft a good question for the challenge. Students receive a message in their mobile phones with date and venue for the first session.  A specific blog is set up for the challenge.
  3. Session 1:  Employer introduces the challenge to the group of 10-15 students followed by a short Q&A session. Employer leaves the room and students start working in small groups with the help of Valnalon. Design Thinking is introduced and the teams devote the rest of the session to understand the challenge, identify stakeholders and prepare interviews to be carried out during the week.
  4. Session 2:  Teams recap on key insights obtained in the interviews and reframe the challenge.  Students apply divergent thinking techniques so that each team comes up with a shortlist of three ideas.  Finally students agree on criteria to pick idea and move on to the prototyping phase.
  5. Session 3: A week later teams meet again to improve their prototypes and get ready for showcase.  The employer joins the session and listens carefully to team pitches. In some cases this session is hosted in the company premises.  The employer provides constructive feedback and takes some of the ideas onboard.

Discover more on the full case study

Success factors

Red Emprendedora

  • Keep it simple. In our opinion a key success factor was reducing paperwork as much as possible.
  • Make it easy for both sides. Valnalon plays a mediating role by supporting and enabling contact between schools and entrepreneurs.
  • Win the hearts and minds of Employers’ associations from the start

Reto TMP

  • Relevant and highly practical. Some of the ideas had a direct application for Isa.  Students analysed La Cabina marketing strategy and offered a possible way forward to make a better use of social media. Isa took onboard some of these suggestions and a few months later, she reckons this fact alone has expanded her customer base.
  • Creativity takes center stage. Isa was overwhelmed by the incredible creative potential and the fresh insights of that heterogeneous group of young people with different interests.  This was particularly enhanced by the fact that students came from different schools in the city of Gijón.
  • Lo-fi prototyping (a key aspect of the Design Thinking approach) facilitated discussion and understanding of project ideas. Isa was particularly surprised and pleased to see the paper prototype of La Cabina website presented by one of the group of students looked really similar to the revamped website soon to be launched.  

 

Achievements

The concept was first prototyped in 2012-2013 and launched in 2013-2014 where it has seen exponential growth. 

  • 150 local employers involved
  • 30 challenges successfully solved last year (2013-2014)
  • 350 Secondary school students involved
  • 32 secondary schools
Website
http://www.valnalon.com/web/index.php/valnalon/red-emprendedora
Contact
Ivan Diego, ivan@valnalon.com