Seven European institutions take part in ECOOPE, a project aimed at promoting cooperative entrepreneurship

The initiative will promote a cooperative spirit and entrepreneurship skills of high school and university students from all over Europe to improve their employability.

The project ECOOPE – Entrepreneurial Cooperative Experience – co-funded by the European Commission with a total budget of over 300.000 euros was launched in April 2017 with the aim of improving the employability of young people in Europe by providing them with relevant entrepreneurship knowledge and skills to promote the set-up of cooperatives. Seven institutions from five EU countries – University of Cantabria and Santander International University of Cantabria and Santander International Entrepreneurship Centre (UC and CISE, Spain), Co-operative College (United Kingdom), European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse, Italy), Lappeenranta University of Technology (Finland), Portugal Entrepreneurship Education Platform and University of Porto (PEEP and UPorto, Portugal) and Industrial City of Valle del Nalón (Spain) – play a part in ECOOPE consortium.


As a business model, cooperatives are a very attractive option for young people since their implementation does not require large capital investment and the responsibility is limited. Its constitution is based on the association of people who face common economic, social and cultural objectives and who distribute the results in an equitable way. Cooperative movement has proven its viability even in times of crisis: in Europe one in five people is a member of a cooperative. There are more than 250,000 cooperatives with 123 million members employing more than 5 million people in multiple sectors throughout Europe.

Education in entrepreneurship and cooperative movement

Through the design and development of innovative training actions that can be easily integrated into secondary and university education, ECOOPE seeks to promote among young Europeans the cooperative spirit and business model as a tool to acquire social and entrepreneurial skills that enhance their employability, especially in those countries with high youth unemployment rates such as Spain, Italy and Portugal.

The objective of the first phase of the ECOOPE project is to identify and study the best programs, methodologies and tools that are being developed in Europe regarding education and training in cooperative entrepreneurship. The results will be reflected in a Best Practice Guide that will be made available to the public in order to increase awareness of the viability of this business model. The second project phase will begin in October 2017 with the design and implementation of two pilot courses for high school and university students. The pilots training propose an innovative working formula in which students, integrated into multidisciplinary teams, will have to find solutions to real-world challenges posed by cooperatives in the participating regions.

In spring of 2018, the project will complete with an international event to disseminate the innovative content and teaching methodologies developed by members of cooperatives, colleges, universities, SMEs and other public and private institutions in various European countries.

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