Award for best research in the field of economics and related fields for the SAVES Project

The hard work begun by ECOBAS researchers María José Cabaleiro Casal and Carlos Iglesias Malvido years ago, begins to see its fruits. SAVES, Virtual Assistant System for Cooperatives and the Social Economy, has just received the “X Award for research and teaching in the field of participation organizations” corresponding to the academic year 2019-2020, awarded by the School of Cooperative Studies of the Complutense University of Madrid.

This prize is awarded annually to the best research in the field of economics and related fields. The SAVES tool, which allows access to information via the web about the situation and recent evolution of Cooperativism in Galicia, as well as the economic-financial profile of Galician cooperatives, confirms its potential to extend to other geographical regions in the context of social economy observatories.

A school that promotes cooperativism since 1971

The prizes are awarded by the School of Cooperative Studies, created in 1971, based at the Complutense University of Madrid. The school was created to promote the study, analysis and research of the organizations of participation: labor societies, cooperative societies, agrarian societies of transformation, mutuals and brotherhoods. In this objective of spreading cooperativism, each year the School awards different prizes, including the one given to ECOBAS researchers. In general, the awards seek to recognize the work done by individuals or institutions in favour of cooperativism and other participatory organizations.

Some of the categories of the annual awards require prior candidacy, but in the case of the awards for the best research: Research in Economics and research in Law, are granted by the School under their own discretion and without previous candidacies. Research projects in economics can be of any kind, and are not confined to the national level, although they are the most frequent.

Normally, the School organizes a series of conferences in which it gathers its members, as well as congresses. Take advantage of one of those days to present the awards. If circumstances allowed, ECOBAS researchers would come to this event to collect their award.

A well-deserved reward

For María José Cabaleiro and Carlos Iglesias this award is a great satisfaction, since the award is given by an academic institution formed by national and international experts dedicated to the study and research of cooperativism and participation companies. Therefore, its members are aware of the difficulties involved in researching cooperatives. “Anyone who sees the website will only think that behind SAVES there is only a computer job, consisting of transforming data tables into graphs. However, that is the least valuable aspect. The merit lies in the work of collecting all information, dispersed in very varied sources, processed with specific criteria and methodologies, different from those applied to conventional companies and published discontinuously over time. The members of the School of Cooperative Studies are aware of the arduous task that is making it possible to build SAVES”, says researcher Carlos Iglesias.  
“The development of the project is generating new ideas”

“It is a project that we have been maturing for many years. We are striving for it to continue in the future, but this also depends on other institutions. Although the initial idea of SAVES will remain the same, the development of the project is generating new ideas. In fact, in the call for the EUSUMO Network this year 2021 we will present another proposal, which is also in line with promoting the digitalisation of the economic and financial operations of cooperative societies”, says researcher María José Cabaleiro.

“In the projects we are moving forward with the line drawn. Initially, we feared that the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 would slow down the pace of work. The project was submitted to the REDE call days before the coronavirus entered Spain. But in the project we already contemplated the possibility of carrying out the work in a semi-physical regime, and this allowed us to equip ourselves with the means to be currently working fully in teleworking regime. With two participants in the project we have never held a face-to-face meeting”, explains the researcher.

Possibilities to export the idea

 “We are now focused on Galicia. This is our priority. We can move forward that when this project ends, in September 2021. We will be able to offer the same project to other Autonomous Communities. In Spain, cooperative societies deposit their accounts in regional registers. At the moment, there is no such project in any other Autonomous Community”, the researchers explain.

Are the project’s expectations being met?

“If you’ll allow the cinematic simile, for now we’ve only presented the film’s trailer. Still to see the film, that is, it is still too early to assess the reception. In March we will present the second SAVES Report, which will show the true potential of this Virtual Assistant for Cooperatives and the Social Economy. The first report published in December last year was only a step forward. Once the second Report is published, we will be able to see if we are meeting the expectations created around this virtual tool”, said the creators.

At the moment, the results are splendid and the hard work done by the researchers is reaping its fruits. This interesting project will give a lot to talk about and we hope that the good news will be repeated.