Frugal Innovation: has its time come?

100 Open Europe Pitching Contest

Why the growing interest in Frugal Innovation in Europe, and why now?

Frugal innovation has been practised for centuries but it only really came to the attention of the global business and innovation and communities with the publication of Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth, by Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu & Simone Ahuja in 2012. The book argued “…that in tough times, we can’t rely on the old formula that has sustained innovation efforts for decades—expensive R&D projects and highly-structured innovation processes” arguing that “… the West must look to places like India, Brazil, and China for a new approach to frugal and flexible innovation.” It’s worth noting that the word ‘Jugaad’ can be loosely translated as a ‘hack’ or a ‘fix’, a way to create something with meagre resources, out of necessity. It has been seen in resource-rich Western culture as something for the developing, rather than developed markets. Interestingly, in Western culture, a’ hack’ has also had a negative connotation associated with breaking into something for malicious purposes, but is now more widely used in a positive sense by companies, Government agencies and others  to solve a commercial or social challenge (as in ‘hackathons’).

The Nordic Frugal Innovation Society (TNFIS) is a not-for-proft organisation based in Finland that has been quietly making the case for Frugal Innovation to be taken more seriously in Europe. It’s 2016 annual conference attracted over 200 delegates and this year it expects to easily exceed this as interest grows, both in the Nordic countries and elsewhere.

According to Founder & President, Venkata Gandikota, “An era of slow growth or no growth in developed economies, along with environmental constraints, rapidly ageing societies and various structural problems will increase the need for frugal models of production and consumption,” he goes on, “This will increase demands for frugal innovation approaches, along with the products and services associated with them, especially in areas such as health and social care. This opens the door to Europe for Indian, Brazilian and other ‘frugal’ innovations but also means a shift in the approach to innovation and its management by western firms needing to lower costs and increase relevance.” 

Maybe hacking existing products and services to make better use of resources, reduce costs and extend reach is the way forward and the time for Frugal Innovation has come?

First European Pitching Frugal Innovation Pitching contest

As European partner for 100 Open Startups based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we have an interest in giving frugal startups a platform and have partnered with Innofrugal 2017 to host what we think is the first European Pitching contest for frugal startups.

This will take place on Day 2 of the event in Helsinki, Finland on Tuesday 25th April. Registration for startups with a frugal focus is at Pitching Contest  and anyone wishing to help identify the 10 finalist before the event can also sign-up from the same page.

Full details of the 2017 event from 24-25th April and registration at Innofrugal 2017

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