International Centre for Frugal Innovation

International Centre for Frugal Innovation logo

The International Centre for Frugal Innovation (ICFI)  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.

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.

ICFI launches Urban Programme on Resilience in Kenya's informal settlements

Launch of the Urban Programme on Resilience in Kenya's informal settlements - ICFI

Launch of the Urban Programme on Resilience in Kenya's informal settlements - ICFI

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

Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa - CFIA - team photo

About the International Centre for Frugal Innovation

The ICFI 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 ICFI 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 ICFI Global Network

ICFI 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.

ICFI 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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