ISS and EU discuss frugal innovation

Frugal Innovation and EU team

On 12 February 2020, Professors Peter Knorringa and Saradindu Bhaduri gave a presentation and workshop entitled 'Why Europe needs Frugal Innovation' to European Commission officials in Brussels.

Why Europe needs Frugal Innovation

Frugal innovation aims to create 'more value for more people from fewer resources'. Much of the current academic discussion on frugal innovation finds its roots in developing and emerging economies like India. However, more and more business leaders and researchers find that it is important for Europe too. Frugal innovation offers new opportunities to make the most of European technological expertise, to address European societal challenges and to better meet customer needs in home markets.

Building on the interest generated by the Affordable Tech session on Frugal Innovation at the Research &Innovation Days in September, RTD’s Innovation Ecosystems unit hosted a Library talk and workshop with colleagues from across Commission services, looking at how to ‘anchor’ Frugal Innovation into the new policy agenda for research and innovation.

Professor Peter Knorringa and Professor Saradindu Bhaduri provided the Library talk named and facilitated the workshop session.

Download the Library talk presentation


Library Talk hosted by EU's Innovation Ecosystems - CFIA 2020 Workshop break-out session - How to anchor frugal innovation in the EU agenda - CFIA 2020

Frugal Innovation in EU Research and Innovation Policy: Working Paper 6

In recent years, frugal innovation has caught the attention of European companies, citizens, policy makers, and NGOs. Professors Peter Knorringa and Saradindu Bhaduri published a Working Paper at the request of DG Research and Innovation, which offers building blocks suggesting where and how frugal innovation could be integrated into EU policy. The paper focuses on possible connections with the ‘Mission-Oriented Research & innovation’ programme (Horizon Europe) that has been designed by the DG Research and Innovation.

The Working Paper builds on the EU scoping Study on frugal innovation and the reengineering of traditional techniques (2017). It introduces three key types of frugal innovation processes, driven respectively by firms, NGOs and local communities. It also shows how these three distinct processes link up with different parts of the EU policy agenda. The paper furthermore explores how a frugal innovation angle could enrich some of the main EU policy instruments and also raises the idea that a more fundamental rethinking of future innovation trajectories might be needed to effectively address global challenges.

Download the Working Paper - 'Frugal Innovation in EU Research and Innovation Policy'


Professor Saradindu Bhaduri

More information

Frugal innovation is the development of smart design solutions that can bring relatively advanced products, systems services within the reach of millions of people with a minimal income. It is about (re) designing products, services and systems at substantially lower costs and with a longer lifespan while there is no loss of functionality. Examples are mobile money transfer services (M-PESA) or portable medical instruments with basic diagnostic functions.

The Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa is hosted at the International Institute of Social Studies.

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