Frugal innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands

Frugal innovation is about finding smart, simple and affordable solutions to overcome resource constraints based on the core idea of ‘doing more, with fewer resources, for more people’.

Frugal innovation has played a key role in overcoming medical constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the transformation of event centres into temporary hospitals or the self-made facemasks.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a health crisis, but also a socioeconomic crisis. In the Netherlands this is linked to restrictions of the (semi)lock-down(s) in the so-called ‘1.5m society’. Examples include social problems such as loneliness or people getting bored as many leisure facilities are closed and the idea that 'having fun is not allowed'. Similarly, the pandemic has caused economic problems, such as shortages of materials and goods due interruptions of global supply chains.

Exploring the role of frugal innovation in overcoming resource constraints

At the same time, and driven by the thought of ‘never waste a good crisis’, the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions of the 1.5m society offer new opportunities for successful regional resilience. For instance, the Metropole region Rotterdam-The Hague wants to use the crisis for economic renewal, as becomes clear from the policy programme 'Stronger out of the crisis' (2020-2021).

Therefore, the Centre for Frugal Innovation research team has taken up this challenge by exploring the role of frugal innovation in overcoming resource constraints of the 1.5m society and in the potential contribution to successful regional resilience.

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