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Frugal Innovation: the art of developing solutions by “doing more with less" creating.

Frugal Innovation is the art of developing solutions by “doing more with less" creating more aggregate value for a client while reducing energy, waste, complexity, time and capital of a product. The frugal innovation framework has three main goals:

  • Develop affordable solutions
  • Reduce the complexity of the solution
  • Leverage local resources

By targeting these goals, a frugal Innovation approach provides a mindset that allows the design of solutions based on the transfer of knowledge from “the bottom up.” It focuses on understanding the ecosystem and needs of the people located in the base of the pyramid of wealth in order to develop appropriate solutions that truly address the needs.

Universities’ third mission is primarily associated with the transfer of knowledge from universities to the business sector to promote innovation and economic growth but it is also associated with the wider contribution of universities to the social development of their regions and with their capacity to contribute to addressing societal problems such as poverty, health or environmental sustainability.

Researchers may lack incentives to engage in frugal innovation, since they are normally rewarded for more measurable outputs, such as publications, patents, or research project, which are not easy to achieve when focussing on frugal innovation. But intermediary organisations such as TTOs and incubators can play a role in this respect, for example by promoting frugal innovation through entrepreneurship projects, also involving students.

In this webinar The Frugal Innovation Hub (FIH) will be presented, as a programme of the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University liaising between engineering students, faculty members, companies, NGOs to solve together humanitarian problems. FIH bridges the gap between the technology developed in the Silicon Valley and emerging markets worldwide.