Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa

The Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa (CFIA) is an academic research center within the strategic alliance between Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University that focuses on accessible frugal innovation products, services, strategies and technologies.


Professor Peter Knorringa, professor of Private Sector & Development at ISS, is the director and one of the three founders of the centre.

Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa website

What is frugal innovation?

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.

...if we want to move from theoretical research to more applied research... companies in the region are good partners

About the Centre for Frugal Innovation

The CFIA focuses on interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research and education. The centre involves many different actors in projects to learn lessons and to look for the effects of frugal services and products as widely as possible.

The collaboration does this by focusing on the research domains Health, Energy, Water and Agro-Food.

Within the four domains CFIA focuses on various issues related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including the promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialization and the stimulation of innovation.

The CFIA Global Network

CFIA has connected diverse societal partners and has laid a strong foundation for a global frugal innovation network, including partners such as Phillips and EADI.  A key example is the Water and Health consortium in East Africa, connecting academics, African entrepreneurs and three Dutch companies in the 'Water' and 'Health' Top Sectors.

CFIA aims to further strengthen, diversify and expand this network. Through their globally located projects and engagement activities, academics work together with students, policy makers, businesses & NGOs to increasingly incorporate frugal innovation into their daily operations and longer-term strategies.

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